Economics and Philosophy

Counting the poor: an elementary difficulty in the measurement of proverty

S. Subramanian a1
a1 Madras Institute of Development Studies


This note suggests that the exercise of measuring poverty in a society is greatly aided by clarity on precisely what one means by “the extent of poverty”. The latter concept may refer to the extent of poverty normalized for population size, or to the extent of poverty not so normalized. Absence of clarity on this distinction – which is both simple and non-trivial – could lead to rather straightforward problems of coherence and consistency in the measurement of poverty.