Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Political Science

Date of Defense

6-14-2010

Graduate Advisor

Kenneth P. Thomas

Committee

Eduardo Silva

Dave Robertson

Chikako Usui

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which socio-politico-economic factors at the structural level impact individual poverty across 17 developed countries in a period of welfare state retrenchment and growing international interconnectedness. This dissertation contributes to a newly developing body of knowledge on cross-national comparison of individual poverty using multilevel analyses. This method allows for modeling various determinants of poverty (variables with different units of analysis at both individual and structural levels) together in a single analysis. The OECD and Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) data were used to conduct a cross-national comparative analysis of 17 affluent economies. The LIS is a cross-national data archive, one of the best harmonized database sources for comparative studies on poverty and income distribution. In order to examine the variations in poverty among individuals in advanced welfare states, 17 countries were selected from LIS Wave 5 (around year 2000). Focusing on labor market active age group (between 18 and 65 years of age), merging of the data for these countries yielded roughly 120,838 working-age individuals in the sample. Social welfare effort cross-nationally is found to be conditioned primarily by the socio-economic determinants in the larger global context. A series of bivariate analyses suggest that globalization and politics play a more significant positive role on social welfare effort among the advanced democracies. Globalization also has a positive effect on politics. While globalization does not have a direct effect on aggregate poverty, politics and social welfare effort have significant effects. Human capital variables significantly affect poverty, but with differential effects for the poor compared to the near poor. The multilevel analyses indicate that individuals who reside in countries with higher degree of globalization and greater left political power are less likely to be poor. Plus, those residing in countries with higher welfare state generosity and active labor market policies are less likely to be poor. Controlling for individual level demographic and human capital variables, the global and nation level structural variables were found to be significant. Implications for U.S. poverty and glocalization strategies to tackle structural poverty are discussed.

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