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Hi Izzy, if the issue should be to compare poverty in the United States and poverty in Europe, then I need to know what and how you want to compare it.  

How do you measure poverty? How do you define a poor underclass? Are the definitions the same in the countries you want to compare them?

Do you measure poverty just by income level? How would that be possible, if you don't know what the incomes you compare can buy in form of quality of life in each country?

Do you compare the Social Safety Nets the different countries in Europe and the US have and under which circumstances they kick in to save someone to drop into poverty? Considering that the Social Safety Nets are different in different countries, do you account for their different impact on the level of poverty?

Do you compare unemployment numbers with the assumption that a country with an higher unemployment rate has more poverty than another country with less unemployed? If you compare unemployment numbers with such an intent, do you account for the different ways unemployment is registered and counted? Do you adjust for the different Social Safety measures a country offers to the ones who lose a job and how they impact the poverty level of those unemployed?

Do you want to compare "Europe" as a whole to the United States? How would that even be possible as European countries have very different Social Security Nets, different income levels etc.

Do you want to compare "educational levels" with the assumption the higher the percentage of people with higher education the lower the poverty rate and the higher the educational levels the higher the upward mobility and the lower the probability of a persistent poor underclass?

If you want to do that, do you consider that upward mobility through increases in the rates of people with higher education is different in different countries? Do you account for the different ways you can curbe the access to higher education and potentially higher upward mobility in different country's educational systems?

Do you want to talk about upward mobility of the poor class towards the lower middle class to middle class with the intent to prove that a larger poverty rate can be balanced against a higher upward mobility in one country versus another country's lower poverty rate combined with a lower upward mobility rate?

I feel guilty to have unintentionally and without giving it a thought initially introduced some off-topic issues in Coleman's debate thread about unemployment statistics, for which I have already apologised.

What I realise though is that the level of poverty in a country is not just dependent on the country's economic system, unemployment statistics or number of people with higher education. You can't measure poverty just by one set of data.

Sounds to me like a lot of comparing apples, oranges, bananas and cherries with the risk of getting out something comparable to a tasty fruit salad. :-) That is to say that I love fruit salad and appreciate your attempt to tackle the issue very much.

Can we agree on a subset of things we try to compare for a start?

by mimi on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 12:21:32 AM EST

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