What is Poverty?
Poverty is a lack of resources and opportunities to achieve a standard of living that allows full participation in the economic, social, cultural, educational, and political spheres of society. Poverty derives from a mixture of complex and compounding factors, including:
- Individual vulnerabilities (education and skills, family life, personal confidence, social relationships).
- Community infrastructure (services and amenities, security, and vibrancy).
- Systems (health system, education system, social services, the market economy and the justice system).
- Societal biases (norms, attitude, practices, and values).
Measuring poverty is challenging and there are many ways to measure poverty. Unfortunately, these measurements do not give a complete picture of the challenges faced by individuals and families living in poverty. There is no currently agreed upon measure of poverty.
Overview of Poverty Measures
- Low Income Cut-Offs (LICO) represent levels of income blow which a family spends a large share of its income for the necessities of food, shelter and clothing than the average family. LICO is measured before and after taxes.
- Low Income Measure (LIM) is based on 50% of median family income and is adjusted for family size. LIM is not adjusted for community size. LIM is calculated before-tax income and after-tax income. LIM is regularly updated and is used in international comparisons of poverty.
- Market Basket Measurement (MBM) represents the cost of buying a specific basket of goods and services. The basket includes items such as food, clothing and footwear, shelter, transportation, personal care, basic telephone service, school supplies, reading material, recreation and entertainment. The MBM is adjusted to location and family income, including deductions for childcare costs, child support payments, payroll taxes and contributions, certain out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare and the cost of prescribed aids for persons with disabilities.
Rather than looking a poverty from a strict income or basic needs perspective, we are proposing to move towards a comprehensive, multi-dimensional framework.