Research Topics

Publications on Poverty

There are 19 publications for Poverty.
  • Quality of Match for Statistical Matches Used in the Development of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Consumption Poverty (LIMTCP) for Ghana and Tanzania

    Working Paper No. 873 | September 2016

    This document presents a description of the quality of match of the statistical matches used in the LIMTCP estimates prepared for Ghana and Tanzania. For Ghana, the statistical match combines the Living Standards Survey Round 6 (GLSS6) with the Ghana Time Use Survey (GTUS) 2009, and for Tanzania it combines the Household Budget Survey (THBS) 2012 with the time-use data obtained from the Integrated Labor Survey Module (ILFS) 2006. In both cases, the alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are described. Despite the differences in the survey years, the quality of match is high and the synthetic dataset appropriate for the time poverty analysis.

  • Measuring Poverty in the Case of Buenos Aires

    Working Paper No. 865 | May 2016
    Why Time Deficits Matter

    We describe the production of estimates of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP) for Buenos Aires, Argentina, and use it to analyze the incidence of time and income poverty. We find high numbers of hidden poor—those who are not poor according to the official measure but are found to be poor when using our time-adjusted poverty line. Large time deficits for those living just above the official poverty line are the reason for this hidden poverty. Time deficits are unevenly distributed by employment status, family type, and especially gender. Simulations of the impact of full-time employment on those households with nonworking (for pay) adults indicate that reductions in income poverty can be achieved, but at the cost of increased time poverty. Policy interventions that address the lack of both income and time are discussed.

  • Why Minsky Matters: An Introduction to the Work of a Maverick Economist

    Book Series, November 2015 | November 2015
    By L. Randall Wray

    Perhaps no economist was more vindicated by the global financial crisis than Hyman P. Minsky (1919–1996). Although a handful of economists raised alarms as early as 2000, Minsky’s warnings began a half century earlier, with writings that set out a compelling theory of financial instability. Yet even today he remains largely outside mainstream economics; few people have a good grasp of his writings, and fewer still understand their full importance. Why Minsky Matters makes the maverick economist’s critically valuable insights accessible to general readers for the first time. Author L. Randall Wray shows that by understanding Minsky we will not only see the next crisis coming but we might be able to act quickly enough to prevent it.

    As Wray explains, Minsky’s most important idea is that “stability is destabilizing”: to the degree that the economy achieves what looks to be robust and stable growth, it is setting up the conditions in which a crash becomes ever more likely. Before the financial crisis, mainstream economists pointed to much evidence that the economy was more stable, but their predictions were completely wrong because they disregarded Minsky’s insight. Wray also introduces Minsky’s significant work on money and banking, poverty and unemployment, and the evolution of capitalism, as well as his proposals for reforming the financial system and promoting economic stability.

    A much-needed introduction to an economist whose ideas are more relevant than ever, Why Minsky Matters is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why economic crises are becoming more frequent and severe—and what we can do about it.

    Published by: Princeton

  • A Public Investment Priority for Job Creation in Turkey

    One-Pager No. 50 | October 2015
    Expanding Child Care and Preschool Services

    This one-pager presents the key findings and policy recommendations of the research project report The Impact of Public Investment in Social Care Services on Employment, Gender Equality, and Poverty: The Turkish Case, which examines the demand-side rationale for a public investment in the social care sector in Turkey—specifically, early childhood care and preschool education (ECCPE)—by comparing its potential for job creation, pro-women allocation of jobs, and poverty reduction with an equivalent investment in the construction sector.

    Associated Program:

  • The Impact of Public Investment in Social Care Services on Employment, Gender Equality, and Poverty

    Research Project Report, August 2015 | September 2015
    The Turkish Case

    Produced in partnership with the International Labour Organization, United Nations Development Programme, and UN Women, this report examines the demand-side rationale for a public investment in the social care sector—specifically, early childhood care and preschool education (ECCPE)—by comparing its potential for job creation, pro-women allocation of jobs, and poverty reduction with an equivalent investment in the construction sector.

    The authors find that a public investment of 20.7 billion TRY yields an estimated 290,000 new jobs in the construction sector and related sectors. However, an equal investment in ECCPE creates 719,000 new jobs in ECCPE and related sectors, or 2.5 times as many jobs. Furthermore, nearly three-quarters of the ECCPE jobs go to women, whereas a mere 6 percent of new jobs go to women following an expansion of the construction sector.

    ECCPE expansion is also shown to be superior in terms of the number of decent jobs (i.e., jobs with social security benefits) created: some 85 percent of new ECCPE jobs come with social security benefits, compared to the slightly more than 30 percent of construction jobs that come with equivalent benefits. Both expansions are found to benefit the poor, with an ECCPE expansion targeting prime-working-age poor mothers of small children showing the potential to reduce the relative poverty rate by 1.14 percentage points. In terms of fiscal sustainability, an ECCPE expansion is estimated to recoup 77 percent of public expenditures through increased government revenues, while construction recovers roughly 52 percent.

    The report concludes that in addition to supply-side effects, there is a robust demand-side rationale for expanded funding of ECCPE, with clear benefits in terms of decent employment creation, gender equality, poverty alleviation, and fiscal sustainability. These findings have important implications for expanded public investment in the broader social care sector as a strategy that embraces gender budgeting while promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.

  • The Measurement of Time and Income Poverty in Korea

    Research Project Report, August 2014 | August 2014
    The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty
    This report presents findings from a joint project of the Levy Economics Institute and the Korea Employment Information Service, with the central objective of developing a measure of time and income poverty for Korea that takes into account household production (unpaid work) requirements. Standard measurements of poverty assume that all households have enough time to adequately attend to the needs of household members—including, for example, caring for children. But this assumption is false. For numerous reasons, some households may not have sufficient time, and they thus experience “time deficits.” If a household officially classified as nonpoor has such a time deficit and cannot afford to cover it by buying market substitutes (e.g., hiring a care provider), that household will encounter hardships not reflected in the official poverty measure.   To get a more accurate calculus of poverty, we developed the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP), a two-dimensional measure that takes into account both the necessary income and the household production time needed to achieve a minimum living standard. In the case of Korea, our estimates for 2008 (the last year for which data are available) show that the LIMTIP poverty rate of employed households was almost three times higher than the official poverty rate (7.5 percent versus 2.6 percent). The gap between the official and LIMTIP poverty rates was notably higher for “nonemployed male head with employed spouse,” “single female-headed” and “dual-earner” households. Our estimates of the size of the hidden poor—roughly two million individuals—suggest that ignoring time deficits in household production resulted in a serious undercount of the working poor, which has profound consequences for the formulation of policy. In addition, the stark gender disparity in the incidence of time poverty among the employed, even after controlling for hours of employment, suggests that the source of the gender difference in time poverty lies in the greater share of the household production activities that women undertake. Overall, current policies to promote gender equality and economic well-being in Korea need to be reconsidered, based on a deeper understanding of the linkages between the functioning of labor markets, unpaid household production activities, and existing arrangements of social provisioning—including social care provisioning.

  • Can Child-care Subsidies Reduce Poverty?

    Public Policy Brief No. 136, 2014 | August 2014
    Assessing the Korean Experience Using the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty
    In partnership with the Korea Employment Information Service, Senior Scholar Ajit Zacharias and Research Scholars Thomas Masterson and Kijong Kim investigate the complex issues of gender, changing labor market conditions, and the public provisioning of child care in Korea using the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP), an alternative measure that factors in both time and income deficits in the assessment of poverty.   Since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, lifetime employment and single-breadwinner households have given way to increased job insecurity, flexible work arrangements, and rapid growth in dual-earner households in Korea. Add to these factors rising labor force participation by women but little change in the highly unequal division of household production, and many women effectively face a double shift each day: paid employment followed by a second shift of household production.   Recognizing the implications of the heavy burden of care work for women’s well-being and employment, Korea introduced public child-care provisioning, via a voucher system for low-income families, in 1992 (the program became universal in 2013). This study analyzes the impact of the voucher program on reducing time and income poverty, and reassesses the overall level of poverty in Korea. While it reveals a much higher level of poverty than official estimates indicate—7.9 percent versus 2.6 percent—due to time deficits, the outsourcing of child-care services reduced the LIMTIP rate from 7.9 percent to 7.5 percent and the number of “hidden poor” individuals from two million to 1.8 million. While these results show that the problem of time poverty in Korea extends beyond child-care needs, the impact of public provisioning through the voucher program clearly has had a positive impact on families with children.   The main findings and policy recommendations resulting from this study are presented in detail in the research project report The Measurement of Time and Income Poverty in Korea: The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty. 

  • The Great Recession and Unpaid Work Time in the United States

    Working Paper No. 806 | May 2014
    Does Poverty Matter?

    Poverty status is an important factor influencing household production and the unpaid work time associated with it due to the role of household production as a coping strategy in mitigating the impact of economic downturns. In this paper, we examine the presence of poverty-based asymmetries in the unpaid work time changes of men and women during the Great Recession. Using the 2003–12 American Time Use Survey, we find that these changes indeed varied by poverty status. In particular, nonpoor women drove the reduction in unpaid work time among women. Among men, the lack of the change in unpaid work time masked the increase in poor men’s time and the decrease in nonpoor men’s time. Oaxaca-Blinder decompositions of the changes in the unpaid work time reveal that shifts in own and spousal employment status largely account for the gender-based differences in these changes, while shifts in the household structure partially explain the poverty-based differences. Nevertheless, sizable portions of the changes in time use remain unexplained by the shifting individual and household characteristics. The latter finding supports the hypothesis of poverty-based variation in the unpaid work time adjustments in that poor and nonpoor individuals appeared to have responded to the recession in different ways.

  • Quality of Statistical Match and Employment Simulations Used in the Estimation of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP) for South Korea, 2009

    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.

  • Ending Poverty: Jobs, Not Welfare

    Book Series, April 2013 | April 2013
    By Hyman P. Minsky | Preface by Dimitri B. Papadimitriou | Introduction by L. Randall Wray
    Although Hyman P. Minsky is best known for his ideas about financial insta­bility, he was equally concerned with the question of how to create a stable economy that puts an end to poverty for all who are willing and able to work. This collection of Minsky’s writing spans almost three decades of his published and previously unpublished work on the necessity of combating poverty through full employment policies—through job creation, not welfare.

    Minsky was an American economist who studied under Joseph Schumpeter and Wassily Leontief. He taught economics at Washington University, the University of California–Berkeley, Brown University, and Harvard University. Minsky joined the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College as a distinguished scholar in 1990, where he continued his research and writing until a few months before his death in October 1996. His two seminal books were Stabilizing an Unstable Economy and John Maynard Keynes, both of which were reissued by the Levy Institute in 2008.

    Minsky held a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Chicago (1941) and an M.P.A. (1947) and a Ph.D. in economics (1954) from Harvard. He was a recipient in 1996 of the Veblen-Commons Award, given by the Association for Evolutionary Economics in recognition of his exemplary standards of scholarship, teaching, public service, and research in the field of evolutionary institutional economics.

    This book was made possible in part through the generous support of the Ford Foundation and Andrew Sheng of the Fung Global Institute.

    Published By: Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

  • Beyond Full Employment

    Working Paper No. 732 | September 2012
    The Employer of Last Resort as an Institution for Change

    Over the past decade and a half the ability of the employer-of-last-resort (ELR) proposal to deliver full employment and price stability has been discussed at length in the literature. A different issue has received relatively little attention—namely, the concern that even when the ELR produces these macroeconomic benefits, it does so by offering “low-paying” “dead-end” jobs, further denigrating the unemployed. In this context, the important buffer stock feature of the ELR is misconstrued as a hydraulic mechanism that prioritizes macroeconomic stability over the program’s benefits to the unemployed.

    This paper argues that the two objectives are not mutually exclusive by revisiting Argentina’s experience with Plan Jefes and its subsequent reform. Plan Jefes is the only direct job creation program in the world specifically modeled after the modern ELR proposal developed in the United States. With respect to macroeconomic stability, the paper reviews how it exhibits some of the key stabilizing features of ELR that have been postulated in the literature, even though it was not designed as an unconditional job guarantee. Plan Jefes also illustrated that public employment programs can have a transformative impact on persistent socioeconomic problems such as poverty and gender disparity. Women—by far the largest group of program beneficiaries—report key benefits to their communities, families, children, and (importantly) themselves from participation in Jefes.

    Argentina’s experience shows that direct job creation programs that offer employment at a base wage can have the unique capacity to empower and undermine prevailing structures that produce and reproduce poverty and gender disparities. Because the latter two problems are multidimensional, the ELR cannot be treated as a panacea, but rather as an important policy tool that remedies some of the most entrenched and resilient causes of poverty and gender inequality. The paper examines survey evidence based on narratives by female participants in Jefes to assess these potentially transformative aspects of the ELR proposal.

  • Simulations of Full-Time Employment and Household Work in the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP) for Argentina, Chile, and Mexico

    Working Paper No. 727 | July 2012

    The method for simulation of labor market participation used in the LIMTIP models for Argentina, Chile, and Mexico is described. In each case, all eligible adults not working full-time were assigned full-time jobs. In all households that included job recipients, the time spent on household production was imputed for everyone included in the time-use survey. The feasibility of assessing the quality of the simulations is discussed. For each simulation, the recipient group is compared to the donor group, both in terms of demographic similarity and in terms of the imputed usual hours, earnings, and household production produced in the simulation. In each case, the simulations are of reasonable quality, given the nature of the challenges in assessing their quality.

  • What Do Poor Women Want? Public Employment or Cash Transfers?

    Working Paper No. 705 | February 2012
    Lessons from Argentina

    The literature on public employment policies such as the job guarantee (JG) and the employer of last resort (ELR) often emphasizes their macroeconomic stabilization effects. But carefully designed and implemented policies like these can also have profound social transformative effects. In particular, they can help address enduring economic problems such as poverty and gender disparity. To examine how, this paper will look at the reform of Argentina’s Plan Jefes into Plan Familias. Plan Jefes was the hallmark stabilization policy of the Argentine government after the 2001 crisis. It guaranteed a public sector job in a community project to unemployed male and female heads of households. The vast majority of beneficiaries, however, turned out to be poor women. For a number of reasons that are explored below, the program was later reformed into a cash transfer policy, known as Plan Familias, that still exists today. The paper examines this reform in order to evaluate the relative impact of such policies on some of the most vulnerable members of society; namely, poor women. An examination of the Argentine experience based on survey evidence and fieldwork reveals that poor women overwhelmingly want paid work opportunities, and that a policy such as the JG or the ELR cannot only guarantees full employment and macroeconomic stabilization, but it can also serve as an institutional vehicle that begins to transform some of the structures and norms that produce and reproduce gender disparities. These transformative features of public employment policies are elucidated by turning to the capabilities approach developed by Amartya Sen and elaborated by Martha Nussbaum—an approach commonly invoked in the feminist literature. This paper examines how the access to paid employment can enhance what Sen defines as an individual’s “substantive freedom.” Any policy that fosters genuine freedom begins with an understanding of what the targeted population (in this case, poor women) wants. It then devises a strategy that guarantees that such opportunities exist and removes the obstacles to accessing these opportunities.

  • Beyond Pump Priming

    One-Pager No. 16 | October 2011

    The American Jobs Act now before Congress relies largely on a policy of aggregate demand management, or “pump priming”: injecting demand into a frail economy in hopes of boosting growth and lowering unemployment. But this strategy, while beneficial in setting a floor beneath economic collapse, fails to produce and maintain full employment, while doing little to address income inequality. The alternative? Fiscal policy that directly targets unemployment by providing paid work to all those willing to do their part.

  • Quality of Match for Statistical Matches Used in the Development of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP) for Argentina, Chile, and Mexico

    Working Paper No. 692 | October 2011

    The quality of match of three statistical matches used in the LIMTIP estimates for Argentina, Chile, and Mexico is described. The first match combines the 2005 Uso del Tiempo (UT 2005) with the 2006 Encuesto Annual de Hogares (EAH) for Argentina. The second match combines the 2007 Encuesta Experimental sobre Uso del Tiempo en el Gran Santiago (EUT 2007) with the 2006 Encuesta Caracteristización Socioeconómica Nacional (CASEN 2006) for Chile. The third match combines the 2008 Encuesta Nacional de Ingresos y Gastos de los Hogares (ENIGH 2008) with the 2009 Encuesta Nacional sobre Uso del Tiempo (ENUT 2009) for Mexico. In each case, the alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are described. In each case, the matches are of high quality, given the nature of the source datasets.

  • Fiscal Policy: Why Aggregate Demand Management Fails and What to Do about It

    Working Paper No. 650 | January 2011

    This paper argues for a fundamental reorientation of fiscal policy, from the current aggregate demand management model to a model that explicitly and directly targets the unemployed. Even though aggregate demand management has several important benefits in stabilizing an unstable economy, it also has a number of serious drawbacks that merit its reconsideration. The paper identifies the shortcomings that can be observed during both recessions and economic recoveries, and builds the case for a targeted demand-management approach that can deliver economic stabilization through full employment and better income distribution. This approach is consistent with Keynes’s original policy recommendations, largely neglected or forgotten by economists across the theoretical spectrum, and offers a reinterpretation of his proposal for the modern context that draws on the work of Hyman Minsky.

  • Measuring Poverty Using Both Income and Wealth

    Working Paper No. 620 | September 2010
    An Empirical Comparison of Multidimensional Approaches Using Data for the US and Spain

    This paper presents a comparative analysis of the approaches to poverty based on income and wealth that have been proposed in the literature. Two types of approaches are considered: those that look at income and wealth separately when defining the poverty frontier, and those in which these two dimensions are integrated into a single index of welfare. We illustrate the implications of these approaches on the structure of poverty using data for two industrialized countries—for example, the United States and Spain. We find that the incidence of poverty in these two countries varies significantly depending on the poverty definition adopted. Despite this variation, our results suggest that the poverty problem is robust to changes in the way poverty is measured. Regarding the identification of the poor, there is a high level of misclassification between the poverty indices: for most of the pairwise comparisons, the proportion of households that are misclassified is above 50 percent. Interestingly, the rate of misclassification in the United States is significantly lower than in Spain. We argue that the higher correlation between income and wealth in the United States contributes to explaining the greater overlap between poverty indices in this country.

    Associated Program:
    Francisco Azpitarte

  • Time and Poverty from a Developing Country Perspective

    Working Paper No. 600 | May 2010
    This study is concerned with the measurement of poverty in the context of developing countries. We argue that poverty rankings must take into account time use dimensions of paid and unpaid work jointly. Reviewing the current state of the literature on this topic, our methodology introduces a critical but missing analytical distinction between time poverty and time deprivation. On this basis, we proceed to provide empirical evidence by using South African time use survey data compiled in 2000. Our findings show that existing methods that work well for advanced countries require modification when adopted in the case of a developing country. The results identify a group of adults who previously were inadvertently missing, as they were considered "time wealthy."

  • The Current Economic and Financial Crisis

    Working Paper No. 562 | May 2009
    A Gender Perspective

    Widespread economic recessions and protracted financial crises have been documented as setting back gender equality and other development goals in the past. In the midst of the current global crisis—often referred to as “the Great Recession”—there is grave concern that progress made in poverty reduction and women’s equality will be reversed. Indeed, for many developing countries it is particularly worrisome that, through no fault of their own, the global economic downturn has exacerbated effects from other crises manifest in food insecurity, poverty, and increasing inequality. This paper explores both well-known and less discussed paths of transmission through which crises affect women’s world of work and overall wellbeing. As demand for textile and agricultural exports decline, along with tourism, job losses are expected to rise in these female-intensive industries. In addition, the gendered nature of the world of work suggests that women will see an increase in their share among informal and vulnerable workers worldwide, and will also supply more of their labor under unpaid conditions. The latter is particularly important in the context of developing countries, where many production activities take place outside the strict boundaries of the market. The paper also makes this point: examined through the prism of gender equality, the ability of the state to implement countercyclical policies matters greatly. If policy responses at the national and international levels end up aggravating inequities, gender equality processes face many more barriers, especially among the poor.

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