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April 24, 2018 / C H Thompson

Evaluation of an absolute definition of poverty

Strengths of an absolute definition of poverty

  • conceptually it is straightforward for people to understand when thinking about donating to famine appeals
  • it is easy to use when making comparisons across a nations regions
  • it is easy to use when comparing poverty with different countries
  • absolute poverty is easier to measure, and therefore easier to research

Weaknesses of an absolute definition of poverty

  • often criticised as being simplistic for it assumes there is a universal concept of what constitutes poverty
  • it is difficult to objectively decide what basic subsistence needs are
  • it assumes the poor can shop around and get the cheapest goods
  • it assumes the cheapest goods are available to purchase in the first place
  • it ignores social exclusion – people are social creatures who ‘need’ to socially integrate by buying ‘inappropriate’ things such as gifts
  • minimum diets do not recognise different the calorific needs of people. For example a builder might need more calories than an office worker
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