Absolute Poverty

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Absolute poverty is a level of poverty defined in terms of the minimal requirements necessary to afford minimal standards of food, clothing, health care and shelter. For the measure to be absolute, the line must be the same in different countries, cultures, and technological levels. Such an absolute measure should look only at the individual's power to consume and it should be independent of any changes in income distribution. The intuition behind an absolute measure is that mere survival takes essentially the same amount of resources across the world and that everybody should be subject to the same standards if meaningful comparisons of policies and progress are to be made. Notice that if everyone's real income in an economy increases, and the income distribution does not change, absolute poverty will decline. Measuring poverty by an absolute threshold has the advantage of applying the same standard across different locations and time periods, it makes comparisons easier. On the other hand, it suffers from the disadvantage that any absolute poverty threshold is to some extent arbitrary; the amount of wealth required for survival is not the same in all places and time periods. For example, a person living in far northern Scandinavia requires a source of heat during colder months, while a person living on a tropical island does not. This type of measure is often contrasted with measures of relative poverty, which classify individuals or families as "poor" not by comparing them to a fixed cutoff point, but by comparing them to others in the population under study. The term absolute poverty is also sometimes used as a synonym for extreme poverty. The poverty threshold is the minimum level of income considered satisfactory in a given country. The common perceptive of the poverty line is considerably higher in developed countries than in developing countries. In the past, the common international poverty line has been roughly $1 a day. In 2008, the World Bank came...
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