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Mashup Indices of Development

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  • Martin Ravallion

Abstract

Countries are increasingly being ranked by some new “mashup index of development,” defined as a composite index for which existing theory and practice provides little or no guidance for its design. Thus the index has an unusually large number of moving parts, which the producer is essentially free to set. The parsimony of these indices is often appealing—collapsing multiple dimensions into just one, yielding seemingly unambiguous country rankings, and possibly reducing concerns about measurement errors in the component series. But the meaning, interpretation, and robustness of these indices and their implied country rankings are often unclear. If they are to be properly understood and used, more attention needs to be given to their conceptual foundations, the tradeoffs they embody, the contextual factors relevant to country performance, and the sensitivity of the implied rankings to the changing of the data and weights. In short, clearer warning signs are needed for users. But even then, nagging doubts remain about the value-added of mashup indices, and their policy relevance, relative to the “dashboard” alternative of monitoring the components separately. Future progress in devising useful new composite indices of development will require that theory catches up with measurement practice. Copyright 2012, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal The World Bank Research Observer.

Volume (Year): 27 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 1-32

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:27:y:2012:i:1:p:1-32

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  1. Sabina Alkire and Maria Emma Santos, 2010. "Acute Multidimensional Poverty: A New Index for Developing Countries," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp038, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  2. Darren Lubotsky & Martin Wittenberg, 2001. "Interpretation of Regressions with Multiple Proxies," Econometrics 0110005, EconWPA.
  3. Wang, Hua & He, Jie, 2010. "The value of statistical life : a contingent investigation in China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5421, The World Bank.
  4. Alkire, Sabina & Foster, James, 2011. "Counting and multidimensional poverty measurement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 476-487.
  5. Ariel Fiszbein & Norbert Schady & Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Margaret Grosh & Niall Keleher & Pedro Olinto & Emmanuel Skoufias, 2009. "Conditional Cash Transfers : Reducing Present and Future Poverty," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2597, October.
  6. Beegle, Kathleen & Himelein, Kristen & Ravallion, Martin, 2009. "Frame-of-reference bias in subjective welfare regressions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4904, The World Bank.
  7. Arrunada, Benito, 2007. "Pitfalls to avoid when measuring institutions: Is Doing Business damaging business?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 729-747, December.
  8. François Bourguignon & Satya Chakravarty, 2003. "The Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 25-49, April.
  9. Duclos, Jean-Yves & Sahn, David & Younger, Stephen D., 2001. "Robust Multidimensional Poverty Comparisons," Cahiers de recherche 0115, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  10. Atkinson, Anthony B & Bourguignon, Francois, 1982. "The Comparison of Multi-Dimensioned Distributions of Economic Status," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(2), pages 183-201, April.
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Cited by:
  1. te Lintelo, Dolf J.H. & Haddad, Lawrence J. & Leavy, Jennifer & Lakshman, Rajith, 2014. "Measuring the commitment to reduce hunger: A hunger reduction commitment index," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 115-128.
  2. Ravallion, Martin, 2012. "Troubling tradeoffs in the Human Development Index," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 201-209.
  3. Sabina Alkire & James Foster, 2011. "Understandings and misunderstandings of multidimensional poverty measurement," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 289-314, June.
  4. Agbodji, Akoete Ega & Batana, Yele Maweki & Ouedraogo, Denis, 2013. "Gender inequality in multidimensional welfare deprivation in west Africa : the case of Burkina Faso and Togo," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6522, The World Bank.
  5. World Bank, 2013. "Burkina Faso : Non-Monetary Poverty and Gender Inequalities, 1993-2010 Trends," World Bank Other Operational Studies 15992, The World Bank.
  6. Vinod Thomas & Xubei Luo, 2011. "Overlooked Links in the Results Chain," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2347, October.
  7. Gaston Yalonetzky, 2011. "Conditions for the Most Robust Poverty Comparisons Using the Alkire-Foster Family of Measures," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp044b, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  8. Patrick Nussbaumer & Francesco Fuso Nerini & Ijeoma Onyeji & Mark Howells, 2013. "Global Insights Based on the Multidimensional Energy Poverty Index (MEPI)," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(5), pages 2060-2076, May.
  9. Høyland, Bjørn & Moene, Karl & Willumsen, Fredrik, 2012. "The tyranny of international index rankings," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 1-14.
  10. Gaston Yalonetzky, 2012. "Conditions for the most robust multidimensional poverty comparisons using counting measures and ordinal variables," Working Papers 257, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  11. Branisa, Boris & Klasen, Stephan & Ziegler, Maria, 2013. "Gender Inequality in Social Institutions and Gendered Development Outcomes," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 252-268.
  12. Athanassoglou, Stergios, 2013. "Multidimensional welfare rankings," MPRA Paper 51642, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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