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THE EFFECT ON POVERTY STATUS IN ISRAEL OF CONSIDERING WEALTH AND VARIABILITY OF INCOME

Jack Habib, Meir Kohn () and Robert Lerman ()

Review of Income and Wealth, 1977, vol. 23, issue 1, 17-38

Abstract: This paper assesses the effects of including wealth and the variability of income on the incidence of poverty and the degree of income inequality in Israel. A special survey, which includes data on the wealth and income of a national sample of Israeli families in 1963–64 and 1964–65, allows us to go beyond measures based on current income alone. The first section reviews earlier studies of poverty in Israel. The next section looks at poverty and inequality in terms of current income, current wealth, and a combined measure of income and wealth. The combined measure is the Hansen‐Weisbrod measure (HW), which equals income plus the annuity value of wealth, assuming all wealth is just consumed at the time of death. It is interesting that, in spite of the much higher wealth inequality than income inequality, the HW measure was slightly more equally distributed than income. This result occurred because the annuity component made up a low share of the total HW measure and the correlation between income and wealth was well under 1. Although overall inequality and poverty were similar for income and HW measures, the incidence of poverty by subgroup depended on the measure used. The final section presents a dynamic view of poverty and inequality. Year‐to‐year changes in poverty were substantial. Because of the use of a relative poverty concept and the rise in real incomes, the real income poverty line rose by 15 percent between 1963 and 1964. Still, of those in income poverty in 1963, 37 percent managed to escape poverty in 1964. The paper shows how the degree to which poverty was stable or transitory varied substantially by age and country of origin.

Date: 1977
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