Measurement and Methodology

We cannot of course develop credible, science-based policy on poverty and inequality without a deep investment in research methods. The main methodological tasks of interest are (a) assessing the prevalence of poverty and inequality, and (b) assessing how particular poverty and inequality outcomes are generated. The first task is central to building a social indicators system that can monitor trends in inequality, while the second task is central to determining how interventions might reduce poverty and inequality.

Descriptive methods

What types of variables (e.g., income, education, wealth) are relevant in assessing the extent of poverty and inequality? What types of statistics best represent the amount or pattern of inequality once the variables of interest have been settled upon? How might other types of inequality (e.g., unequal opportunity, residential segregation) be measured?

Causal methods

How best to make inferences about the causal effects of particular policies and programs (e.g., Head Start), individual-level investments (e.g., an investment in college), or individual-level traits (e.g., gender)? What types of experimental and non-experimental methods yield the most credible conclusions about underlying causes?

"When the rich wage war it is the poor who die." - Jean-Paul Sartre


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