The basic needs approach is one of the major approaches to the measurement of
absolute poverty. It attempts to define the absolute minimum resources necessary for long-term physical well-being, usually in terms of consumption goods. The poverty lineis then defined as the amount of incomerequired to satisfy those needs.
A traditional list of immediate "basic needs" is food (including water), shelter, and
clothing.cite book |author=Denton, John A. |title=Society and the official world: a reintroduction to sociology |publisher=General Hall |location=Dix Hills, N.Y |year=1990 |pages=17 |isbn=0-930390-94-6 |oclc= |doi=] Many modern lists emphasize the minimum level of consumption of 'basic needs' of not just food, water, and shelter, but also sanitation, education, and healthcare. Different agencies use different lists.
Related approaches, taking their cue from the work of
Amartya Sen, focus on 'capabilities' rather than consumption.
In the development discourse, the basic needs model focuses on the measurement of what is believed to be an eradicable level of
poverty. Development programs following the basic needs approach do not invest in economically productive activities that will help a societycarry its own weight in the future, rather it focuses on allowing the society to consume just enough to rise above the poverty line and meet its basic needs. These programs focus more on subsistence than fairness. Nevertheless, in terms of "measurement", the basic needs or absolute approach is important. The 1995 world summit on social development in Copenhagen had, as one of its principal declarations that all nations of the world should develop measures of both absolute and relative povertyand should gear national policies to "eradicate absolute poverty by a target date specified by each country in its national context."cite web
title=United Nations Division for Sustainable Development- Sustainable Development Issues - Poverty
Basic needs approach in different countries
Professor Chris Sarlo, an
economistat Nipissing Universityin North Bay, Canada and a senior fellow of the Fraser Institute, uses Statistics Canada's socio-economic databases, particularly the "Survey of Household Spending" to determine the cost of a list of household necessities. The list includes food, shelter, clothing, health care, personal care, essential furnishings, transportationand communication, laundry, home insurance, and miscellaneous; it assumes that education is provided freely to all residents of Canada. This is calculated for various communities across Canada and adjusted for family size. With this information, he determines the proportion of Canadian households that have insufficient income to afford those necessities. Since the early 1970s, the poverty rate has declined from about 12% of Canadian households to about 5%. [ [http://www.fraserinstitute.org/COMMERCE.WEB/product_files/PovertyinCanada2006.pdf Poverty in Canada: 2006 Update ] ]
The Municipality of
Rosario, Batangas, Philippinesimplemented its Aksyon ng Bayan Rosario 2001 And BeyondHuman and Ecological Security Plan using this concept as a core strategy through the "Minimum Basic Needs Approach to Improved Quality of Life - Community-Based Information System (MBN-CBIS)" prescribed by the Philippine Government. This approach helped the municipal government identify priority families and communities for intervention, as well as rationalize the allocation of its social development funds.
United States of America
In the United States, the equivalent measures are called "self-sufficiency standards" or "living income standards". Unlike the
federal poverty level(FPL), which is calculated from a single, national variable (cost of food), these models assume that different households have different needs, based on factors such as the number and age of children in the household, and the cost of housing in the particular area (usually a county) that they live in. [ [http://www.wowonline.org/pdf/SSS-FAQ.pdf The Self-Sufficiency Standard: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers] ] In keeping with the principles of basic needs, these measurements do not include any extra money for entertainment, savings, debt payment, or unusual or avoidable expenses, such as vehicle repairs. It assumes that adults will be working and pay taxes; it also includes costs of all government, charitable, and family subsidies, such as free medical care through Medicaid, free food from the USDA food stampsprogram or a food bank, or free childcarefrom a grandparent. [ [http://www.wowonline.org/ourprograms/fess/] Family Economic Self-Sufficiency by Diana Pearce at Wider Opportunities for Women] All of these costs are ignored by the official FPL measurement, but included in a self-sufficiency standard.
Minimum expenses vary by region. For housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and other necessary expenses, plus net taxes, a family in middle-class Warren County in northwestern
Pennsylvaniaof one adult and two children (one preschooler, one school-aged) needed a minimum income of $30,269 to pay its own way in 2006. [ [http://www.wowonline.org/ourprograms/fess/state-resources/SSS/The%20Self-Sufficiency%20Standard%20for%20Pennsylvania%202006.pdf The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2006] by Diana Pearce, Ph.D.] Child careis the largest expense in this budget, followed by housing, taxes, and food. The same family, living in the wealthy Seattle region of Washingtonwould need to earn $48,269 to be self-sufficient. [ [http://www.wowonline.org/ourprograms/fess/state-resources/documents/WASSSfullreport6-29-07.pdf The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Washington 2006] by Diana Pearce, Ph.D] These figures contrast sharply with the FPL for that year, which was just $16,600 for any three-person household.
Anthropological theories of value
Maslow's hierarchy of needs
Living wage, a wage that is high enough to meet basic needs
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