Changing Poverty or Changing Poverty Aversion?


ISBN: 978-0-7623-1450-8, eISBN: 978-1-84950-508-6

ISSN: 1049-2585

Publication date: 6 July 2007


Supposing that decisionmakers in any country and at any point in time tolerate a certain fixed level of perceived poverty, differences in poverty aversion are called for to explain observed international and intertemporal variations in poverty statistics. Under the Natural Rate of Subjective Poverty hypothesis advanced in this paper, variations in the degree of poverty aversion are estimable and can be explained by political and socioeconomic factors. The methodology is applied to US data from 1975 to 1998 and across nations using cross-section data from the mid-1990s. Factors such as the political affiliation of government officials, public expenditure, per capita income, and economic growth account for much of the variation in poverty aversion implied by our hypothesis. The relationship between inequality aversion and poverty aversion is also explored, with the aid of a parallel “natural rate” hypothesis for inequality (Lambert et al., 2003). Our findings provide a new framework in which to interpret observed correlations between poverty, inequality, and social welfare.


Millimet, D., Slottje, D. and Lambert, P. (2007), "Changing Poverty or Changing Poverty Aversion?", Lambert, P. (Ed.) Equity (Research on Economic Inequality, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 233-268.

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