Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Proverty Statistics

From Breaking

EAPN Ireland chairman Joe Gallagher said ‘relative’ poverty in Ireland is measured by not being able to afford certain necessities, like a warm coat or heating at home, while in most other developed countries, it is found by the number falling below 60% of ‘mean’ earnings. “By this measure, Ireland has the worst poverty rate in the EU,” he said.

As the saying goes statistics are very dubious especially ones with that involve the entire population. Anyway one explanation for Ireland having the worst poverty rate in the EU is that fact that we have less unemployment then the rest of the EU.

Let me explain my rational. For instance if 10% of the population is unemployed that means that 10% of the population is pretty much on the same dole money. This means that the mean value is affected by this. This base dole level brings down the average figure thus the 60% of the mean figure is lower. Now in a country like Ireland where about 4% are unemployed this means that the base dole figure has a smaller effect on bring down the average figure then the 10% dole figure does thus the 60% of the mean figure will be a higher income value then in the 10% population country. If you get me.

Thus this means that in a low unemployment country the income level that puts someone below 60% of ‘mean’ earnings is actually higher then the income level that puts someone in the below 60% of ‘mean’ earnings in the high unemployment country.

So therefore to me relative poverty figures are pretty useless as in high employment countries they can overestimate the problem and in high unemployment countries they can underestimate the problem. Hence maybe why the rest of the EU with their higher unemployment use’s that measure. (Richard of Sicilian Notes had an interesting article in Magill without paragraphs)

Therefore a better measure of poverty is needed. My definition of poverty is when people struggle to get the basic necessities of life heat, housing, food etc. Also if they do not have access to decent health care and kids can’t get a decent education that would also fall into the poverty category. However many would disagree with me some think that people should have a certain statistically correlation with the average income which to me is crap.

So how are we going to achieve adequate Education, Health, heat, housing, food etc well I have discussed much of this before but much of it does not require much more funding, for instance to provide (possibly mandatory hence I guess means making the school day longer and adding a study class or drop religion class for study or both) home work clubs in primary and secondary school would not cost a great deal more but it would have in my opinion have a massive effect. However something’s would require more funding e.g. social housing but that doesn’t require increased taxation just for the government to realise that it’s place is in providing social housing etc and not in airlines, train services, state broadcasting etc and stopping tenant purchase.

Recently I was listening to Pat Kenny talk about this the other day. Seemingly a tenant can buy back their council house at a cheap rate and then a year of two later the person can sell on their house at the market rate often back to the government. And as these houses are often close to the city centre’s they are often worth a fortune. If someone has the ability to buy a house it should not be taking the states houses they should be moving into the private sector with possibly the help of the government. The government’s stock of social housing should permanently stay with in the states hands or it should be sold at the market rate to fund housing elsewhere.

But what about the case that increased social inequality causes increased crime. Well if we are as the man say’s the most unequal in the Europe how come we have a lower crime rate then (I am guessing but probably close) the lowest relative poverty country in Europe, Sweden.

By using arbitrary measurements based on statistics we are missing out entirely who is poor. The only way poverty should be measured is on people’s ability to afford the necessities of life and their access to health and education. It probably should not be based on an income threshold at all. For instance in my eyes someone with kids beside a top notch school earning 100 euros a year less then someone beside a poor school is better off. Mathematical giggerary pokery can result in resources being spread too thin because people are trying to eliminate poverty where it does not exist.

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