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Understandings and Misunderstandings of Multidimensional Poverty Measurement

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  • Sabina Alkire and James Foster

Abstract

Multidimensional measures provide an alternative lens through which poverty may be viewed and understood. In recent work we have attempted to offer a practical approach to identifying the poor and measuring aggregate poverty (Alkire and Foster 2011). As this is quite a departure from traditional unidimensional and multidimensional poverty measurement – particularly with respect to the identification step – further elaboration may be warranted. In this paper we elucidate the strengths, limitations, and misunderstandings of multidimensional poverty measurement in order to clarify the debate and catalyse further research. We begin with general definitions of unidimensional and multidimensional methodologies for measuring poverty. We provide an intuitive description of our measurement approach, including a ‘dual cutoff’ identification step that views poverty as the state of being multiply deprived, and an aggregation step based on the traditional Foster Greer and Thorbecke (FGT) measures. We briefly discuss five characteristics of our methodology that are easily overlooked or mistaken and conclude with some brief remarks on the way forward.

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Paper provided by Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford in its series OPHI Working Papers with number ophiwp043.

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Date of creation: May 2011
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Handle: RePEc:qeh:ophiwp:ophiwp043

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  1. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-31, March.
  2. Jean-Yves Duclos & David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2006. "Robust Multidimensional Poverty Comparisons," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(514), pages 943-968, October.
  3. James E. Foster & Mark McGillivray & Suman Seth, 2013. "Composite Indices: Rank Robustness, Statistical Association, and Redundancy," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(1), pages 35-56, January.
  4. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  5. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-64, July.
  6. Alkire, Sabina & Santos, María Emma, 2011. "Acute Multidimensional Poverty: A New Index for Developing Countries," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics 3, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  7. Joseph Deutsch & Jacques Silber, 2005. "Measuring Multidimensional Poverty: An Empirical Comparison Of Various Approaches," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(1), pages 145-174, 03.
  8. Bourguignon, F. & Chakravarty, S.R., 1998. "The Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty," DELTA Working Papers, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure) 98-12, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  9. Sen, Amartya, 1997. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292975, October.
  10. BOSSERT, Walter & CHAKRAVARTY, Satya R. & D’AMBROSIO, Conchita, 2009. "Multidimensional Poverty and Material Deprivation," Cahiers de recherche, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques 2009-11, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  11. Gaston Yalonetzky, 2011. "Conditions for the Most Robust Poverty Comparisons Using the Alkire-Foster Family of Measures," OPHI Working Papers, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford ophiwp044b, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  12. Christopher J. Bennett and Shabana Mitra, 2011. "Multidimensional Poverty: Measurement, Estimation, and Inference," OPHI Working Papers, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford ophiwp047, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  13. Kai-yuen Tsui, 2002. "Multidimensional poverty indices," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 69-93.
  14. Gaston Yalonetzky, 2013. "Stochastic Dominance with Ordinal Variables: Conditions and a Test," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(1), pages 126-163, January.
  15. DECANCQ, Koen & LUGO, Maria Ana, . "Weights in multidimensional indices of wellbeing: an overview," CORE Discussion Papers RP, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) -2493, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  16. Alkire, Sabina & Foster, James, 2011. "Counting and multidimensional poverty measurement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 476-487, August.
  17. Ravallion, Martin, 2010. "Mashup indices of development," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 5432, The World Bank.
  18. Ma. Casilda Lasso de la Vega, 2009. "Counting poverty orderings and deprivation curves," Working Papers, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality 150, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  19. Nicole Rippin, 2010. "Poverty Severity in a Multidimensional Framework: The Issue of Inequality between Dimensions," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers, Courant Research Centre PEG 47, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  20. Satya R. Chakravarty & Conchita D'Ambrosio, 2003. "The Measurement of Social Exclusion," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research 364, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  21. Gordon Anderson, 2008. "The empirical assessment of multidimensional welfare, inequality and poverty: Sample weighted multivariate generalizations of the Kolmogorov–Smirnov two sample tests for stochastic dominance," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 73-87, March.
  22. A. Atkinson, 2003. "Multidimensional Deprivation: Contrasting Social Welfare and Counting Approaches," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 51-65, April.
  23. Sabina Alkire & James Foster, 2010. "Designing the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI)," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present), Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) HDRP-2010-28, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  24. Sabina Alkire, 2011. "Multidimensional Poverty and its Discontents," OPHI Working Papers, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford ophiwp046, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
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  1. Understandings and Misunderstandings of Multidimensional Poverty Measurement
    by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2011-12-06 18:34:55
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