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Brady, David
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
LIS Working Paper Series 264
Despite serious methodological problems, quantitative studies of poverty by U.S. sociologists predominantly rely on the official U.S. measure. After reviewing the shortcomings of the official measure, this paper examines several econometric and theoretical advances in poverty measurement. In turn, I argue than an ideal measure of poverty should: a) measure comparative historical variation effectively; b) be relative rather than absolute; c) conceptualize poverty as social exclusion; d) integrate the depth of poverty and the inequality among the poor; and, e) assess the impact of taxes, transfers and non-cash benefits. Next, this paper evaluates sociological studies published in the 1990s for their consideration of these criteria. Due to sociology's neglect of these criteria, this paper develops three alternative poverty indices: the Interval Measure, the Ordinal Measure, and the Sum of Ordinals Measure. Finally, with the Luxembourg Income Study, I examine the empirical patterns with these three measures, across advanced capitalist democracies from 1967 to 1997. Estimates of these poverty indices are made available for future research.
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Working Paper
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