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Does it Matter that we do not Agree on the Definition of Poverty? A Comparison of Four Approaches

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  • Caterina Ruggeri Laderchi
  • Ruhi Saith
  • Frances Stewart

Abstract

While there is world-wide agreement on poverty reduction as an overriding goal of development policy, there is little agreement on the definition of poverty. Four approaches to the definition and measurement of poverty are reviewed in this paper: the monetary, capability, social exclusion and participatory approaches. The theoretical underpinnings of the various measures and problems of operationalizing them are pointed out. It is argued that each is a construction of reality, involving numerous judgements, which are often not transparent. The different methods have different implications for policy, and also, to the extent that they point to different people as being poor, for targeting. Empirical work in Peru and India shows that there is significant lack of overlap between the methods with, for example, nearly half the population identified as in poverty according to monetary poverty but not in capability poverty, and conversely. This confirms similar findings elsewhere. Hence, the definition of poverty does matter for poverty eradication strategies.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Oxford Development Studies.

Volume (Year): 31 (2003)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 243-274

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Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:31:y:2003:i:3:p:243-274

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References

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  1. Miguel Székely & Nora Lustig & Martin Cumpa & José Antonio Mejía-Guerra, 2000. "Do We Know How Much Poverty There Is?," Research Department Publications 4239, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  2. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  3. John Micklewright, 2002. "Social Exclusion and Children: A European view for a US debate," CASE Papers case51, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  4. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1996. "Why have some Indian states done better than others at reducing rural poverty?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1594, The World Bank.
  5. Lipton, M., 1988. "The Poor And The Poorest," World Bank - Discussion Papers 25, World Bank.
  6. Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2001. "Growth is good for the poor," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2587, The World Bank.
  7. Alkire, Sabina, 2005. "Valuing Freedoms: Sen's Capability Approach and Poverty Reduction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199283316.
  8. Caterina Ruggeri Laderchi, 1997. "Poverty and its many dimensions: The role of income as an indicator," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(3), pages 345-360.
  9. Ravallion, M., 1998. "Poverty Lines in Theory and Practice," Papers 133, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
  10. Caterina Ruggeri Laderchi, . "The Monetary Approach to Poverty: A Survey of Concepts and Methods," QEH Working Papers qehwps58, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  11. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-31, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Geranda Notten & Keetie Roelen, 2010. "Cross-national comparison of monetary and multidimensional child poverty in the European Union: puzzling with the few pieces that the EUSILC provides," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 13510, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
  2. Sabina Alkire and Maria Emma Santos, 2013. "Measuring Acute Poverty in the Developing World: Robustness and Scope of the Multidimensional Poverty Index," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp059, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  3. Geranda Notten & Keetie Roelen & UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2011. "Monitoring Child Well-being in the European Union: Measuring cumulative deprivation," Innocenti Working Papers inwopa635, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
  4. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 2003. "Well-being poverty versus income poverty and capabilities poverty?," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2003-16, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 2005. "Subjective well-being poverty versus income poverty and capabilities poverty?," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-003, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  6. Sabina Alkire, 2011. "Multidimensional Poverty and its Discontents," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp046, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  7. Jiantuo Yu, 2013. "Multidimensional Poverty in China: Findings Based on the CHNS," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 112(2), pages 315-336, June.
  8. Habibov, Nazim N. & Fan, Lida, 2010. "Comparing and contrasting poverty reduction performance of social welfare programs across jurisdictions in Canada using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA): An exploratory study of the era of devolution," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 457-467, November.
  9. Celso Nunes, 2008. "Poverty Measurement: The Development of Different Approaches and Its Techniques," Working Papers 93, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  10. Richard P.C. Brown & Eliana V. Jimenez, 2008. "Remittances and Subjective Welfare in a Mixed-Motives Model: Evidence from Fiji," Discussion Papers Series 370, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  11. Daniel Neff, 2007. "Subjective Well-Being, Poverty and Ethnicity in South Africa: Insights from an Exploratory Analysis," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 80(2), pages 313-341, January.
  12. Alkire, Sabina & Foster, James, 2011. "Counting and multidimensional poverty measurement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 476-487, August.
  13. Kirsten Wüst & Jürgen Volkert, 2012. "Childhood and Capability Deprivation in Germany: A Quantitative Analysis Using German Socio-Economic Panel Data," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 106(3), pages 439-469, May.
  14. Manoj Roy & Simon Guy & David Hulme & Ferdous Jahan, 2011. "Poverty and climate change in urban Bangladesh (CLIMURB): an analytical framework," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 14811, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
  15. Maria Santos, 2013. "Tracking Poverty Reduction in Bhutan: Income Deprivation Alongside Deprivation in Other Sources of Happiness," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 112(2), pages 259-290, June.
  16. Geranda Notten & Keetie Roelen & UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2011. "The Breadth of Child Poverty in Europe: An investigation into overlap and accumulation of deprivations," Innocenti Working Papers inwopa636, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
  17. Keetie Roelen & Franziska Gassmann & Chris Neubourg, 2010. "Child Poverty in Vietnam: Providing Insights Using a Country-Specific and Multidimensional Model," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 98(1), pages 129-145, August.

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