The "family/couple/household" unit of measurement in poverty estimation

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The unit of measurement used in poverty estimation continues to receive critical scrutiny. The debate revolves around what is the most appropriate unit- the family, the household, or some other entity. This analysis discusses the existing options and offers a conceptually more refined alternative: the "family/couple/household" (FCH) unit, which assumes income pooling among family members, including cohabiting couples, but not among non-relatives, and takes into account the benefits from economies of scale for all household members. Poverty rates are estimated using alternative definitions. Overall, empirical results show modestly lower poverty rates when household-level economies of scale are taken into account. The difference is largest for persons living in nontraditional household arrangements, such as cohabitors and non-family members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-265
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Economic and Social Measurement
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


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