Mood, Carina | 2015
Journal of European Social Policy, Published online before print June 17, 2015, doi: 10.1177/0958928715588707
We question the common description of poverty in Western countries as largely brief and transient and show that the spell-based analyses from which this view stems diverts attention from the bulk of poverty, which is persistent rather than transient. Measures of poverty concentration are suggested. Using Swedish population data spanning 18 years (1990–2007, N (persons*years) = 102,754,809), we can avoid problems that plague poverty research using survey data and can give precise calculations of completed durations without relying on questionable assumptions. The majority of poverty years were experienced by people in long-term poverty: 69 percent of all poverty years over the 18-year period fell on people with 5 years or more in poverty. Half of all poverty years were borne by only 5 percent of the population, meaning that poverty was highly concentrated. This speaks in favour of the social policy efficiency in targeting a small group of long-term poor.