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Estimating Utility-Consistent Poverty Lines with Applications to Egypt and Mozambique

Channing Arndt () and Kenneth Simler

Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2010, vol. 58, issue 3, 449-474

Abstract: A fundamental premise of absolute poverty lines is that they represent the same level of utility through time and space. Disturbingly, a series of recent studies in middle- and low-income economies show that even carefully derived poverty lines rarely satisfy this premise. This article proposes an information-theoretic approach to estimating cost-of-basic-needs (CBN) poverty lines that are utility consistent. Applications to date illustrate that utility-consistent poverty measurements derived from the proposed approach and those derived from current CBN best practices often differ substantially, with the current approach tending to systematically overestimate (underestimate) poverty in urban (rural) zones. (c) 2010 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Date: 2010
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