Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
The fact remains, however, that you have failed utterly to present a meaningful definition of poverty - relative or absolute, that is applicable to individuals.

You have cited three measures of poverty, two of which are population averages (HDI and life expectancy) and the third of which is clearly and evidently nonsense (a dollar a day is meaningless as a definition of poverty - even if you lived well above this threshold, such as for two dollars a day, you would still be in abject poverty).

So far in this thread, the only remotely meaningful definition of poverty presented is as a fraction of the median income.

As it happens, I agree with you that this is a somewhat ad hoc measure, but over small timescales (a couple of decades) in developed societies it works well enough as a proxy for what we want to measure.

Personally, I would propose a definition of poverty that goes as follows:

A person is in poverty if (s)he does not have reliable access to all of the following:

  • Shelter (including heating and clothing)
  • Balanced and nourishing diet (including clean water)
  • Healthcare and medicine

This is very basic - it could easily be argued that reliable light sources and access to information/education also belong here.

Clearly, under this definition, the US has higher poverty rates than virtually any Western European country. Equally clearly, under this definition privatized pension schemes do lead directly to poverty.

I acknowledge, of course, that this scheme is not perfect. However, I challenge anyone who disagrees with it to propose a better one him- or herself, or refer me to a better one already proposed.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:45:30 PM EST
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