By Fred Kammer, S.J.
In recent years, scholars and policy-makers have developed alternative measures of "poverty" that look at a range of issues in measuring human well-being beyond the simpler economic "poverty line." While there are a variety of such measures, the one that gained acceptance internationally is the Human Development Report and its Human Development Index adopted by the United Nations Development Program in 1990. The focus is more on the "human development' than 'poverty,' drawing on the work of economist Mahbub ul Haq at the World Bank in the 1970s.
...Dr. Haq argued that existing measures of human progress failed to account for the true purpose of development-to improve people's lives. In particular, he believed that the commonly used measure of Gross Domestic Product failed to adequately measure well-being. MORE>>
By Fred Kammer, SJ
Poverty is one of the three focus areas for the work of JSRI. In their 1986 book-length pastoral letter Economic Justice for All the US Bishops reminded us of the importance of confronting poverty in these words: "Dealing with poverty is not a luxury to which our nation can attend when it finds the time and resources. Rather, it is a moral imperative of the highest priority."
But what does it mean to speak of poverty in the United States? Drawing on the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching, the bishops explained it this way, “By poverty, we are referring here to the lack of sufficient material resources required for a decent life.” Then, in the next sentence, they acknowledge the complexity of the question, “We use the government’s definition of poverty, although we recognize its limits.” And a footnote introduces elements of the national debate about what we call “the poverty line.” [Continue on to MORE about measuring poverty and poverty in the Gulf South.]
The Payday Shark in Your Bank Account -- Mikulich
Catholicism and Capitalism -- Kammer
Banner Image: Brenda Ann Keneally/AmericanPoverty.org