DT 01 - 24 Poverty in Latin America: feelings/perceptions Vs. material conditions

Income-based objective welfare indicators may fail to account for important socio-economic factors that could affect the level of a household’s well- being. This has led to the development of subjective measures of well-being, based on respondent’s self-assessments of welfare questions. In this article, we derive subjective poverty lines for seven Latin American countries (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay) based on a Minimum Income Question included in household expenditure surveys. We compare poverty incidence under the subjective and objective approach and find that subjective poverty is larger than objective poverty for all countries. People that are identified as poor are generaly poor by both measures or only subjective poor, although the patterns of overlapping differ between countries. Thus, being income poor does not comletely coincide with feeling poor.  We explore the factors associated to considering oneself as poor -that is, being subjectively poor- when the per capita household income is higher than the absolute poverty line. In general terms, unemployment and informality are associated with higher probability of subjective poverty. Other factors not directly involving income but reflecting high economic security, such as having health insurance, home ownership, the quality of housing and an asset index, also tend to reduce the probability of feeling poor. Finally, the welfare stigma effect seems not hold, at least in terms of subjective poverty.

Keywords: poverty lines, subjective poverty, Latin America