Welfare II: Poverty and Income Maintenance

  • Paul Marshall
Part of the Macmillan Texts in Economics book series (TE)


While the discussion of distribution and inequality in Chapter 15 referred mainly to a summary index, the Gini coefficient, important occasional use was made of the comparison between extremes in the distribution. We turn now in more detail to this question of extremes as we consider poverty as a manifestation of inequality. However, while ‘poverty’ is indeed a reflection of ‘inequality’, the two concepts are quite separate and have different meanings. It is a tautology to state that where incomes are unequally distributed, the poorest members of the population will be found at the bottom of the distribution. It may anyway be the case that these poor individuals are rich indeed when compared with those in the bottom percentile (or even the top percentile) of the income distribution in some other population. In other words, we might judge, say, the bottom 20 per cent of any population to be ‘poor’, but this may be true in only a relative sense, rather than an absolute one.


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© Paul Marshall 1997

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  • Paul Marshall

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