Three hundred and nineteen

Trying to write about different poverty lines around the world in a short blog format is harder than I thought.  Just like Canada has a few ways of looking at poverty (absolute, relative, deprivation index, etc), so too do most other countries.  To write about every one of those ways, even for a few countries, would be too much for one post and would probably become very dry to read.  Therefore, I’ve decided to add a few ways of defining poverty below.  This is by no means a complete list, but only a rough idea of how the poverty line is viewed by some people in different parts of the world.

  • A general way of defining poverty in the UK and some parts of Europe is to consider those whose household income is below 60% of the median income to be poor.  (Poverty in the United Kingdom)
  • The United States tends to use an absolute poverty measure (as opposed to relative to income made across the country), the poverty threshold “below which families or individuals are considered to be lacking the resources to meet the basic needs for healthy living; having insufficient income to provide the food, shelter and clothing needed to preserve health.” (Wikipedia)
  • The United Nations Development Programme (with the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative) have developed the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which complements money-based measures by considering multiple dimensions of deprivation (similar to the Ontario Deprivation Index I talked about yesterday).  The MPI uses three dimensions of Health, Education and Living Standards, with ten indicators of Nutrition, Child Mortality, Years of Schooling, Children Enrolled, Cooking Fuel, Toilet, Water, Electricity, Floor and Assets.  People suffering deprivations in 33% of weighted indicators are considered poor by this measure.
  • The World Bank calculated an international poverty line of US$1.25 per day “by reference to the national poverty lines in 10-20 of the world’s poorest countries. These figures are converted into US dollars, not by standard currency exchange rates, but by purchasing power parity (PPP) rates. ” (
  • Each country has its own poverty line, with developing countries having lower poverty lines than those of developed countries.

If you are a visual person, here is a (very simplified) presentation by the World Bank on how poverty is measured: