Working poor?

OECD Observer

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Poverty is multifaceted by nature, making cross-country comparisons difficult. Some countries may have a large poverty rate but a high turnover in and out of poverty, implying short poverty spells by many people. Also, poverty incidence may be low in aggregate terms, but with only a low probability of getting out of poverty permanently.

As the latest OECD Employment Outlook reports, one striking observation is that a majority of high-poverty countries exhibit a relatively high upward income mobility. In contrast, in some low-poverty countries, exit from poverty may be permanent but usually for a life of low income.

Poverty can reflect age, but also working status. In most countries, relative poverty incidence and persistence is higher for lone parents–especially women with children–and less-educated individuals. Individuals in households with no working members have a far higher risk of poverty incidence in the long run. The presence of occasional or part-time workers does not greatly reduce poverty risk.

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Also, in many countries, even households with one full-time worker may still encounter poverty, but have a far lower-than-average risk of long-term poverty. In France and the US, one full-time worker might not be enough to prevent households from slipping into poverty at least once, nor even into persistent poverty in Italy or Portugal. However, the presence of a second earner in the family sharply reduces the likelihood of being poor in all countries.

©OECD Observer No 256, July 2006

Economic data

GDP growth: -9.8% Q2/Q1 2020 2020
Consumer price inflation: 1.3% Sep 2020 annual
Trade (G20): -17.7% exp, -16.7% imp, Q2/Q1 2020
Unemployment: 7.3% Sep 2020
Last update: 10 Nov 2020

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