The connection between the child poverty rate, the performance of schools and the overall economy has garnered intense media attention. But despite the comprehensive coverage, the link is more nuanced than believed. Both Japan and the United States serve as examples.

Whenever poverty is reported, it is almost always in relative terms. For example, about 15 percent of children in Japan live in a household with a disposable income less than half of the median. That places Japan in the bottom third of the 34 countries in the OECD.

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