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Unformatted text preview: Poor People in Rich Nations: The United States in Comparative Perspective Timothy Smeeding M ost examinations of U.S. domestic antipoverty policy are inherently parochial, for they are based on the experiences of only our nation in isolation from the others. However, cross-national comparisons can also teach lessons about antipoverty policy. While all nations value low poverty, high levels of economic self-reliance and equality of opportunity for younger persons, they differ dramatically in the extent to which they reach these goals. Nations also exhibit differences in the extent to which working age adults mix economic self-reliance (earned incomes), family support and government support to avoid poverty. We begin by reviewing international concepts and measures of poverty. The Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) database contains the information needed to construct comparable poverty measures for more than 30 nations. It allows com- parisons of the level and trend of poverty and inequality across several nations, along with considerable detail on the sources of market incomes and public policies that shape these outcomes. We will highlight the different relationships between antipoverty policy and outcomes among several countries, and consider the impli- cations of our analysis for research and for antipoverty policy in the United States. In doing so, we will draw on a growing body of evidence that evaluates antipoverty programs in a cross-national context (Banks, Disney, Duncan and Van Reene, 2005). Many international bodies have published cross-national studies of the incidence of poverty in recent years, including the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF, 2005; Chen and Corak, 2005; Bradbury and Ja ntti, 2005), the United Nations Human Development Report (UNDP, 2005), the Organization for y Timothy Smeeding is Maxwell Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Economics and Public Administration, all at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York. He is also Director of the Luxembourg Income Study. Journal of Economic PerspectivesVolume 20, Number 1Winter 2006Pages 6990 Economic Cooperation and Development (Fo rster and Pellizzari, 2005) and the Luxembourg Income Study (Ja ntti and Danziger, 2000; Kenworthy, 2004; Rainwa- ter and Smeeding, 2003). A large subset of these studies is based on LIS data. Comparing Poverty and Inequality across Nations The data we use for this analysis are taken from the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) database, available at ^ http://www.lisproject.org & , which now contains almost 140 household income data files for 32 nations covering the period 1967 to 2002. We can analyze both the level and trend in poverty for a considerable period across a wide range of nations. We have selected just eleven nations for this paper, each with a recent 19992000 LIS database. These include the United States; three Anglo-Saxon nations of Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom; four central European nations of Austria, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands; one south-...
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This note was uploaded on 04/22/2009 for the course ECON 4626 taught by Professor Zax during the Spring '08 term at Colorado.
- Spring '08
- The Land