Beyond the breadline

A poverty threshold based on a generalised budget approach

Beyond the Breadline
pdf, 669kB
Arjan Soede Cok Vrooman
Publication date
15 February 2008
poverty, income
Number of pages

The poverty thresholds currently used in empirical research are problematic in several respects. Their theoretical status is sometimes unclear, because they refer to a specific policy interpretation or to a different concept, such as inequality. In other cases there may be technical reasons why they are difficult to apply in practical research situations. In the light of these issues, SCP recently examined the merits of a proposed new poverty threshold. This is based on norms for expenditure which are virtually unavoidable in a modern society. In the lowest variant the threshold amount is spartan, but adequate to enable a household to be run independently. The highest variant also includes scope for some social participation.

The new criterion can be applied simply and consistently in practical research. This publication illustrates this by presenting a historical analysis of poverty rates in the Netherlands (1985-2005) based on the new threshold amounts, two traditional Dutch poverty thresholds and the relative income threshold as used by the European Union. An analysis of the views prevailing among the Dutch population shows that the new threshold matches dominant notions of poverty fairly well.