The Game of Poverty Lines
Counting poor is a great pastime and rarely people doing the counting are poor. So, their objectivity is beyond question. A lot of thinking has gone into devising ways to count poor since societies started to find ways to judge the well-being (or lack of it) of its people. You can easily tell if there is an apple in the basket of oranges, but it is not so straightforward if you want to separate the poor from the rest. It all depends upon how you choose the benchmark. It also works the other way round: you first decide how many are to be counted as poor and then decide the poverty line! Therefore, governments are known to reduce poverty overnight without really doing anything; they just lower the benchmark or change the way calculations are done!
Poverty can be described in three ways: two are traditional ways and third is the most recent and is based on Amartya Sen’s theory. Traditionally, poverty has been measured either in absolute or relative terms. Again, the traditional poverty lines focus on the resources; it is now shifting to the end result (well being).