DP913 | Gender, Poverty and the Intra-household Distribution of Resources

Publication Date

05/02/1994

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Abstract

Numerous authors have pointed out the importance of taking into consideration the intra-household distribution of resources in the analysis of poverty. Most empirical studies of poverty, however, assume an equal sharing of resources between all household members. There is a growing body of research indicating that this assumption is not realistic. Nevertheless, only limited attention has been directed towards addressing how sharing assumptions can be incorporated into poverty measurement. This paper proposes a method that allows for an evaluation of how the unequal sharing of resources between male and female adults and between adults and children affects the incidence and intensity of poverty. The method is consistent with Sen's axiomatic approach to poverty measurement and is based upon an aggregate poverty index that is additively decomposable with population share weights. These measures are calculated for all households and for households consisting only of couples with children. Data from two countries participating in the Luxembourg Income Study -- Italy and the United States -- are used to illustrate the importance of paying attention to the intra-household distribution when one is examining the relationship between gender and poverty. These countries were chosen as they have, under the equal-sharing assumption, very different gender distributions of poverty.