The Journal of Economic Inequality

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 163-189

First online:

Empirical issues in lifetime poverty measurement

  • Michael HoyAffiliated withUniversity of Guelph Email author 
  • , Brennan Scott ThompsonAffiliated withRyerson University
  • , Buhong ZhengAffiliated withUniversity of Colorado Denver

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Recently there has been increased interest in developing methods for measuring poverty in a way that takes into account the lifetime experience of individuals. We analyze some specific proposals that take the so-called spells approach and consider how they differ in the manner in which they address issues of lifetime poverty, most notably the measurement of chronic poverty. Comparing these specific measures by applying them to a US panel data set, we provide important insights for further research in conceptualizing and measuring lifetime poverty.


Lifetime poverty Snapshot poverty Chronic poverty Early poverty Poverty measurement

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