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Poor and Rich - The Facts


Absolute poverty is defined according to an absolute minimum standard, often called the ‘poverty line’. Relative poverty means that you are poor in relation to those around you. Income poverty (‘less than a dollar a day’, for example), means that you are poor if you have less money than the defined poverty line for your country. Human poverty takes into account other factors, such as life expectancy, infant malnutrition, illiteracy and lack of food or clean water. Basic needs definitions also go beyond money, to include all the things that a person needs in order to survive – including employment and participation in society.


Measuring poverty is always a problem, especially if you recognize that just using money is not enough. There are a number of new measurements emerging, like the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare.1 This measures ‘quality’ economic activity by, for example, making a subtraction for air pollution and an addition for unpaid household labour.

Another method is the Human Poverty Index. This is ranked according to three main areas of deprivation: survival; knowledge and a decent standard of living. In the industrial world, where the Index also includes social exclusion, some 7 to 17% of the populations are classified as poor. The higher the percentage figure, the greater the poverty in that country. read more

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