Discontinuous losses from poverty, generalized Pα measures, and optimal transfers to the poor

François Bourguignon, Gary Fields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the distributional properties of poverty measures which are discontinuous at the poverty line. It is shown that among all the additive poverty measures, only those measures with some discontinuous jump at the poverty line are such that it is optimal to allocate a given antipoverty budget either to the richest of the poor, or to the poorest of the poor, or to both. A special class of such poverty measures is an extension of the well-known Pα, the properties of which are investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-175
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1997


  • Antipoverty policy
  • Poverty index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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