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Book Chapter Reducing Inequalities: A Challenge for the EU? No. 6

Income poverty in the EU: what do we actually measure? Empirical evidence on choices, underlying assumptions and implications (based on EU-SILC 2005–2014)



Renato Miguel Carmo, Cédric Rio, and Márton Medgyesi

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Social exclusion and poverty highlight one particular aspect of social inequality, focusing on the situation of those who are at the bottom. In this chapter, we focus only on poverty and the specific indicators used for monitoring poverty at the EU level. We highlight the methodological and normative assumptions beyond the ‘lead’ indicator of poverty and show the actual empirical implications of these. What is the significance of the specific poverty threshold chosen? What does it imply for cross-country comparison? We discuss the issue of poverty monitoring over time and make a case for the use of the poverty rate with a threshold ‘anchored in time’, and demonstrate the significance of this choice with country-specific evidence. Our chapter concludes with data on the situation of migrants, indicating that social disparities within a particular country are of specific relevance in the use of this indicator (given its country-specific definition of poverty threshold as such). The analysis is based on EU-SILC data from the years 2005–2014, which provides cross-country comparative data for all EU countries.


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