Poverty Measurement in the European Union: Country-Specific or Union-Wide Poverty Lines?


  • Klaas de Vos
  • M. Asgar Zaidi


In discussions about poverty in the Member States of the European Union, a distinction can be made between researchers and policy makers who argue for one common Union-wide poverty line for all Member States and those who prefer country-specific poverty lines. This paper contributes to this debate by presenting empirical results if a research project carried out within the Poverty-3 programme of the European Commission. The arguments to use country-specific poverty lines does not only affect the incidence of poverty, but also alters the relative ranking of the Member States. More importantly, the distribution of the poor population across these countries is affected. In most cases, the groups identified as risk groups according to the Union-wide poverty lines are the same as those based on the country-specific poverty lines.