, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 479-503
Date: 13 Jun 2013

Interpretation of Poverty in St. Louis County, Minnesota

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Abstract

The paper analyzes subjective poverty in St. Louis County, Minnesota with the methods of systematic data collection. The initial hypothesis states that American people blame the individuals for their poor living conditions. Based on the Easterlin paradox, the next hypothesis states that subjective and absolute poverty lines are independent. Taking into account that the USA is a developed country, subjective wellbeing is supposed to be associated with relative deprivation. The paper concludes that the items most related to poverty are “no job”, “no access to basic needs” and “addiction”. The main causes of poverty are “cycle of poverty”, “no job” and “addiction”. The main consequences of poverty are “no access to basic needs”, “poor health” and “minimum education”. The results revealed that the most important items related to poverty and the main causes and consequences of poverty cannot be classified unambiguously as being individualist, structural or fatal. The analysis showed that subjective poverty line is different from the objective lines. This result supports the Easterlin paradox and implies that people can be dissatisfied with their lives even when they are above the poverty line according to the official statistics. Elimination of absolute poverty may therefore not be enough to improve subjective well-being. The evidence that relative income assessment is not correlated with subjective well-being implies that people are not concerned with their relative income position.