We propose an Oaxaca-Blinder-like decomposition of poverty differences. The decomposition is based on a parametric model of the income distribution and can be used to decompose differences in poverty rates across countries or years. Poverty differences are decomposed into differences in the underlying distribution of poverty-relevant characteristics and differences in the incidence of poverty conditional on these characteristics. We illustrate our method by comparing levels and patterns of relative poverty in the USA, Great Britain and Germany during the 1990s. Our results suggest that the higher aggregate poverty rates in the USA and in Britain relative to Germany were mostly accounted for by higher poverty rates conditional on characteristics, which were partly offset by a more favourable distribution of poverty-relevant characteristics, in particular higher employment rates
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