Asset Building Financial Inclusion Working Paper

Economic Poverty Reconsidered: The Case for “Direct” Measures

Although there has been much discussion in the United States regarding the definition of economic poverty, we continue to measure poverty almost exclusively in terms of current income. However, there are many reasons to supplement measures of income-poverty with “direct” measures of poverty, that is, with measures that capture the inadequate consumption of particular goods and services. First, direct and indirect measures of poverty represent alternative conceptions of poverty. Second, experiences of “direct” poverty are of both normative and instrumental concern. Third, direct measures of poverty have a number of practical uses, particularly in the context of welfare reform.

Subsequent publication: Beverly, S. G. (2001). Measures of material hardship: Rationale and recommendations. Journal of Poverty, 5(1), 23-41. doi:10.1300/J134v05n01_02


Beverly, S. G. (1999). Economic poverty reconsidered: The case for “direct” measures (CSD Working Paper No. 99-1). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.