Associated Programs

The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty

The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty

In addition to income inadequacies, the Levy Institute’s innovative Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP) accounts for, and hence makes visible, the negative impact time deficits exert on living standards.

Income poverty customarily ascertains the ability of individuals and households to gain access to some minimal level of income (i.e., the poverty line), on the premise that such access ensures the fulfillment of a designated set of basic material needs. However, this approach neglects the fact that, in addition to a minimal basket of market purchases, daily reproduction of household members requires that some amount of time must be dedicated to necessary (unpaid) household production activities. Just as some households fail to gain access to sufficient income, we must also consider the possibility that households may fail to meet their basic household production requirements for lack of time. Time deficits may be so severe that, when accounted for, they bring to the fore households that are in fact in poverty but remain “hidden” from the policy radar.

Furthermore, LIMTIP builds on the supposition that, within the household, women and men do not partake equally in meeting household production requirements, nor do they face identical time deficits: existing data reveal that women contribute their time disproportionately to unpaid household activities. Accordingly, to assess inequalities between households and among individuals within households requires that we consider differentiation jointly across both income and household production dimensions. For that, it is imperative to understand how labor force participation and earnings interact with time dedicated to household production responsibilities. Such an understanding is particularly important for formulating policies that promote gender, social, and economic justice coherently and consistently.

In addition to providing a measurement framework that allows a better informed estimation of poverty rates and depth of poverty we employ a microsimulation model that is especially useful for policy impact analysis. Designed to track both income and time dimensions of inequalities, it can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a policy intervention (or an economic event) in reduction of time and income poverty simultaneously.

The support of the United Nations Development Programme Regional Service Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly the Gender Practice, Poverty, and Millennium Development Goals areas, made the development of this framework possible.

Research Programs

Gender Equality and the Economy
The Distribution of Income and Wealth



Program Publications

  • Public Policy Brief No. 132 | May 2014
    Gauging the severity of poverty in a given country requires a reasonably comprehensive measurement of whether individuals and households are surpassing some basic threshold of material well-being. This would seem to be an obvious point, and yet, in most cases, our official poverty metrics fail that test, often due to a crucial omission. In this policy brief, Senior Scholar Ajit Zacharias, Research Scholar Thomas Masterson, and Research Associate Emel Memiş  present an alternative measure of poverty for Turkey and lay out the policy lessons that follow. Their research reveals that the number of people living in poverty and the severity of their deprivation have been significantly underestimated. This report is part of an ongoing Levy Institute project on time poverty (the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty), which has produced research on Latin America, Korea, and now Turkey, with the aim of extending this approach to other countries.

  • The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Consumption Poverty for Turkey

    Official poverty lines in Turkey and other countries often ignore the fact that unpaid household production activities that contribute to the fulfillment of material needs and wants are essential for the household to reproduce itself as a unit. This omission has consequences. Taking household production for granted when measuring poverty yields an unacceptably incomplete picture, and therefore estimates based on such an omission provide inadequate guidance to policymakers.

    Standard measurements of poverty assume that all households and individuals have enough time to adequately attend to the needs of household members—including, for example, children. These tasks are absolutely necessary for attaining a minimum standard of living. But this assumption is false. For numerous reasons, some households may not have sufficient time, and they thus experience what are referred to as “time deficits.” If a household officially classified as nonpoor has a time deficit and cannot afford to cover it by buying market substitutes (e.g., hire a care provider), that household will encounter hardships not reflected in the official poverty measure. To get a more accurate calculus of poverty, we have developed the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Consumption Poverty (LIMTCP), a two-dimensional measure that takes into account both the necessary consumption expenditures and household production time needed to achieve a minimum living standard.

  • Working Paper No. 793 | March 2014

    The quality of match of the statistical match used in the LIMTIP estimates for South Korea in 2009 is described. The match combines the 2009 Korean Time Use Survey (KTUS 2009) with the 2009 Korean Welfare Panel Study (KWPS 2009). The alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are described. The match is of high quality, given the nature of the source datasets. The method used to simulate employment response to availability of jobs in the situation in which child-care subsidies are available is described. Comparisons of the donor and recipient groups for each of three stages of hot-deck statistical matching are presented. The resulting distribution of jobs, earnings, usual hours of paid employment, household production hours, and use of child-care services are compared to the distribution in the donor pools. The results do not appear to be anomalous, which is the best that can be said of the results of such a procedure.

  • One-Pager No. 45 | January 2014
    Official poverty lines in Korea and other countries ignore the fact that unpaid household production contributes to the fulfillment of material needs and wants that are essential to attaining a minimum standard of living. By taking household work for granted, these official estimates provide an inaccurate accounting of the breadth and depth of poverty—and can lead policymakers astray.

  • Working Paper No. 769 | July 2013

    The quality of match of the statistical match used in the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Consumption Poverty (LIMTCP) estimates for Turkey in 2006 is described. The match combines the 2006 Zaman Kullanim Anketi (ZKA 2006) with the 2006 Hanehalki Bütçe Anketi (HBA 2006). These are the national time-use survey and household income and expenditure surveys, respectively. The alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are detailed. The match is of high quality, given the nature of the source datasets.

    The quality of the simulation of employment gains for Turkey in 2006 is then described. All eligible adults not working for pay, as employers, or as unpaid household workers were assigned jobs. In all households that included job recipients, the time spent on household production was imputed for everyone included in the time-use survey. Household consumption was then assigned to each household in the simulation containing a job recipient. The recipient group was compared to the donor group, both in terms of demographic similarity and in terms of the imputed usual hours, earnings, and household production generated in the simulation. In both cases, the simulations were of reasonable quality, given the nature of the challenges in assessing their quality.

  • In the Media | April 2013
    Latin America and Gender Equality Bulletin (UNDP), April 2013. All Rights Reserved.

    In this interview, Rania Antonopoulos, a senior scholar and co-author of the research project report “Why Time Deficits Matter: Implications for the Measurement of Poverty,” discusses the importance of combining income and time poverty measurements in order to reach an effective reduction of poverty and promote more egalitarian societies.
  • In the Media | March 2013
    Cómo usar la información de uso del tiempo para informar a las políticas de reducción de la pobreza con perspectiva de género
    Latin America and Gender Equality Bulletin (UNDP), March 2013. All Rights Reserved.

    Desde que la Plataforma para la Acción de Beijing instara a los países a relevar encuestas de uso del tiempo para medir “cuantitativamente el valor del trabajo no remunerado que no se incluye en las cuentas nacionales, por ejemplo, el cuidado de los familiares a cargo y la preparación de alimentos”, el levantamiento de encuestas de uso del tiempo ha avanzado sin pausa en los países en desarrollo. En nuestra región, un importante número de países han recolectado información de uso del tiempo, con variadas metodologías y alcances.

    Puede decirse que México y Uruguay muestran los avances más sostenidos en este campo, ya que han levantado o están por levantar su tercera encuesta de uso del tiempo. Pero no están solos: en los últimos años Argentina (en Buenos Aires y en Rosario), Bolivia, Brasil, Costa Rica (en la Gran Área Metropolitana), Colombia, Chile (en Gran Santiago), Ecuador, Panamá, Perú y Venezuela han levantado encuestas de uso del tiempo. Aquellas de las que se conocen los resultados –algunas son muy recientes, como la de Venezuela, o están en campo, como la de Colombia– muestran que las mujeres realizan más trabajo doméstico y de cuidados que los varones, en particular las madres de hijas e hijos pequeños y las ocupadas, y que mujeres y varones provenientes de hogares pobres por ingresos realizan más trabajo doméstico y de cuidados que quienes provienen de hogares no pobres.

    La Plataforma para la Acción de Beijing asocia de manera muy clara la visibilización, medición, y valoración del trabajo doméstico y de cuidados a su incorporación en las cuentas nacionales –comparables al Producto Bruto Interno– a través de cuentas satélites. Esto implica reconocer que el trabajo doméstico y de cuidados “expande” el ingreso nacional, y por lo tanto el bienestar.

    El nivel “macro” de análisis tiene su correlato a nivel micro.

    El consumo de los hogares es superior a sus gastos en bienes y servicios, ya que el trabajo doméstico y de cuidados no remunerado que se realiza en ellos expande las posibilidades de consumo de sus miembros. La valoración de los “servicios” que brinda el trabajo doméstico y de cuidados complementa el ingreso monetario, y brinda una medida “ampliada” del bienestar.

    El consumo de los hogares es superior a sus gastos en bienes y servicios, ya que el trabajo doméstico y de cuidados no remunerado que se realiza en ellos expande las posibilidades de consumo de sus miembros. La valoración de los “servicios” que brinda el trabajo doméstico y de cuidados complementa el ingreso monetario, y brinda una medida “ampliada” del bienestar.

    Si en las medidas de pobreza absoluta, la medición de requerimientos de ingresos no implica que el hogar (o las personas) estén efectivamente consumiendo la canasta de pobreza, sino sólo que tengan los ingresos para adquirirla, el establecimiento de un requerimiento de tiempo implica determinar si las personas (y por lo tanto los hogares en que viven) podrían realizar el trabajo doméstico y de cuidados necesario para vivir con la canasta de pobreza (dada la estructura de los hogares, el tiempo de trabajo remunerado, y la distribución intra-hogar del trabajo doméstico y de cuidados),  no que efectivamente lo estén realizando. Si “no les alcanza el tiempo”, entonces tienen “déficits” que las hacen pobres de tiempo.

    Si el ingreso del hogar alcanza para compensar el valor de estos déficits, entonces, serán pobres de tiempo pero no de ingreso “ajustado”. Pero si el ingreso no alcanza para comprar sustitutos de estos déficits, entonces las personas y los hogares en que habitan serán pobres de tiempo e ingresos. La medida de pobreza de ingreso y tiempo LIMTIP no hace otra cosa que corregirlas medidas de pobreza absoluta que estamos acostumbradas y acostumbrados a utilizar, para hacerlas más fieles a sus supuestos. Con una notable excepción, especialmente bienvenida si, además de las diferencias de ingreso nos preocupan las diferencias de género y la desigual división sexual del trabajo: mientras que en las medidas de pobreza de ingreso se supone que al interior del hogar la distribución del consumo es “justa” (acorde a las necesidades), y que un hogar pobre lo es porque no alcanza a cubrir en conjunto un nivel de consumo mínimo, en la medida LIMTIP no se realiza ningún supuesto, sino que se toma la distribución del trabajo doméstico y de cuidados del observada en el hogar. Y los déficits de tiempo se calculan a nivel individual, no conjunto, y por lo tanto no se “compensan” entre miembros del hogar.

    Aunque este último es un supuesto fuerte, no tomarlo implicaría borrar una diferencia de género crucial, que además conocemos. Podría argumentarse que la medida LIMTIP combina dos modos muy distintos de medir la pobreza –el ingreso a nivel hogar, el tiempo a nivel individual. Pero no se hace porque se esté de acuerdo con el modo en que se mide la pobreza por ingresos, sino porque no tenemos, todavía, una mejor medida del consumo de bienes y servicios remunerados al interior de los hogares.

    La medida de pobreza LIMTIP permite conjugar, como ninguna otra hasta el momento, dos mandatos de la Plataforma para la Acción de Beijing, que no por casualidad, aparecen a continuación uno del otro: “hacer evidente la desigualdad en la distribución del trabajo remunerado y el no remunerado entre mujeres y varones” y “perfeccionar los conceptos y métodos de obtención de datos sobre la medición de la pobreza entre hombres y mujeres”. Hacia allí estamos trabajando.
  • Research Project Reports | December 2012
    Revisiting Poverty Measurement, Informing Policy Responses

    This report is published as part of the “Undoing Knots, Innovating for Change” series, issued by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean through its Gender Practice Area. It includes findings from a UNDP-supported research project undertaken in 2011 by the Levy Economics Institute with the objective of proposing an alternative to official income poverty measures, one that takes into account household production (unpaid work) requirements—an issue still largely ignored by official poverty estimates. This has significant consequences for policymaking. The resulting Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty is a two-dimensional measure that jointly tracks income gaps and time deficits. Using this alternative measure, the authors present selected results of empirical estimates of poverty and compare them with official income poverty rates for Argentina, Chile, and Mexico, with a focus on the study's policy implications.