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A condition in which a person or community lacks the material essentials for a minimum standard of well-being.


Poverty is about absolute levels of living – how many people cannot attain certain predetermined consumption needs. Measures of poverty and inequality are typically based on household consumption expenditure or income normalized for differences in household size and the cost of living. Aggregate measures of poverty at country or global levels tend to get the most attention, though finer breakdowns (such as by geographical area or ethnic group) are often brought into the picture.

Ongoing debates over causes, effects and best ways to measure poverty, directly influence the design and implementation of poverty-reduction programs and are therefore relevant to the fields of international development and public administration. (wiki “poverty”)

There are different ways of defining and measuring poverty. Some experts have drawn a distinction between the analysis of "income poverty" and the much broader analysis of "human poverty." The difference between these two concepts is that human poverty is defined by impoverishment in multiple dimensions, while income poverty is defined by deprivation in a single dimension – income.

Those who suggest that the "income" view of poverty is insufficient argue that many dimensions of human life must be analyzed. Some of these theorists have suggested that the deprivation of a long and healthy life, knowledge, a decent standard of living and social participation should all be understood as components of poverty. By contrast, income poverty is defined by deprivation in a single dimension – income. The concept of human poverty sees lack of adequate income as an important factor in human deprivation, but not the only one.


Ravallion, M. (2003). “The debate on globalization, poverty and inequality: Why measurement matters”, International Affairs, 79 (4), pp. 739-753.

UNDP, 2000, p. 17 

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