Estimation of Joint Income-Wealth Poverty: A Sensitivity Analysis

TitleEstimation of Joint Income-Wealth Poverty: A Sensitivity Analysis
Publication TypeInternational peer-reviewed journal article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsKuypers, S., & Marx I.
JournalSocial Indicators Research

Most poverty studies build on measures that take account of recurring incomes from sources such as labour or social transfers. However, other financial resources such as savings and assets also affect living standards, often in very significant ways. Previous studies that have sought to incorporate assets into poverty measures agree that (1) poverty estimates including wealth are considerably lower than the traditional income-based measures; (2) poverty rates of the elderly are more affected than those of the non-elderly and (3) poverty rates are especially affected by the household’s main residence. This paper assesses the sensitivity of these conclusions to various plausible alternative assumptions, such as the poverty line calculation, the types of assets included in the wealth concept and choices with respect to the equivalence scale. Moreover, we check whether the impact of alternative assumptions is consistent across age and institutional settings. To that effect we compare Belgium and Germany, two countries with similar living standards and income poverty rates, but very different levels and distributions of wealth. Using data from the Eurosystem Household Finance and Consumption Survey we show that accounting for wealth affects the incidence and age structure of poverty in a very substantial way. However, we also illustrate that results strongly depend on all kinds of measurement choices. We show that poverty rates may increase as well as decrease depending on how wealth is accounted for. Cross-country rankings may also change, overall or for specific groups. Second, current measures are not representative for young households such that any conclusion on the age ratio of poverty is highly sensitive to the assumptions made.

KeywordsIncome, Poverty measurement, Sensitivity analysis, Wealth
Citation Key6111
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