Poverty rates in OECD countries 2017

Out of all OECD countries, Israel had the highest poverty rate as of 2017, at 17.9 percent. The country with the second highest poverty rate was the United States, with 17.8 percent.

The significance of the OECD

The OECD, or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, was founded in 1948 and is made up of 36 member countries. It seeks to improve the economic and social well-being of countries and their populations. The OECD looks at issues that impact people’s everyday lives and proposes policies that can help to improve the quality of life.

Poverty in the United States

In 2018, there were 38.15 million people living below the poverty line in the U.S. About 20.8 percent of the African American population lived in poverty in 2018, the most out of any ethnicity. In addition, more young women lived in poverty than young men. It is clear that poverty in the United States is a complex, multi-faceted issue that affects millions of people and will require a solution for the country to move forward.

Poverty rates in OECD countries as of 2017

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Release date

January 2020


United States

Survey time period

2017 or latest available

Supplementary notes

OECD database accessed on January 17, 2020
*2016 data
**2015 data
***Provisional 2016 data

The poverty rate is the ratio of the number of people whose income falls below the poverty line and the total population; the poverty line is here taken as half the median household income.
Income is defined as household disposable income in a particular year. It consists of earnings, self-employment and capital income and public cash transfers; income taxes and social security contributions paid by households are deducted. The income of the household is attributed to each of its members, with an adjustment to reflect differences in needs for households of different sizes.

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