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Study Analyzes Options for Measuring Monetary Poverty in Uruguay

13 March 2019|News

The document was produced as a contribution to the upcoming national discussion on determining the country’s poverty threshold.

The future availability of a new Household Spending and Income Survey for Uruguay will enable the assessment of a new official measurement of income poverty in the country. In light of this process, ECLAC’s office in Montevideo edited a new publication that explores the different options for its construction.

The document, Measurement of Monetary Poverty in Uruguay: Concepts, Methodologies, Evaluation and Alternatives (No. 37 in the Studies and Perspectives Series by ECLAC’s Office in Montevideo, in Spanish only), reviews the available methodological options and the influence that some of these decisions have on the results obtained.

In their study, authors Martín Brun and Maira Colacce – consultants for ECLAC – examine the options available for measuring monetary poverty, along with their consequences in terms of the levels and evolution of the incidence of poverty in Uruguay in the last two decades.

According to the report, the identification of poverty requires combining two elements: a monetary measurement of the well-being of households, and a poverty line that is measured in the same units as well-being. These elements are analyzed in depth in the document, in both theoretical and empirical terms. The authors review absolute, relative and hybrid measurements, putting special emphasis on the first of these, which are officially applied in Uruguay.

It adds that the results of poverty evolution in Uruguay seen between 1996 and 2016 are resilient to the different methodological alternatives, as long as absolute poverty is being addressed. In the case of strong relative poverty, its evolution is much more stable given that its movements respond to changes in the distribution of income, but not to their level.

According to the official data obtained in the period under study, in all cases children and adolescents show higher poverty levels than adults, and adults are poorer than older adults; but the degree of difference depends substantially on the choice regarding the incorporation of income equivalence scales and the calculation of relative or absolute poverty.