Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Food prices and poverty

I was talking to a Norwegian friend of mine a while ago and she mentioned that food in Canada costs about a quarter of what it does in Norway. This is interesting because we tend to think of Norway as a very equal society. However, I can imagine that huge food prices make being poor pretty difficult. Our standard measures of inequality, like Gini co-efficients, don't take this into account. Who knows what country is truly the kindest to its poor, but it is important to look at bit deeper into a nations micro-economy before you make judgments.


Patrick Ross said...

The Gini coefficient is fairly politicized as it is, and based almost purely on the specific preconceptions of those who designed it.

Personally, I put little stock in it.

RC said...

The Gini Coefficient is about as unpolitical a statistic as can be found. It can be used to measure different things but we most often use it as a rough measure of income inequality relative to complete income equality (each person or household receives the same income.

In any case, one statistic can never sum up a complex issue such as economic inequality.