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Understandings and misunderstandings of multidimensional poverty measurement

  • Sabina Alkire

    ()

  • James Foster

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 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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Article provided by Springer in its journal The Journal of Economic Inequality.

Volume (Year): 9 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 289-314

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jecinq:v:9:y:2011:i:2:p:289-314
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  1. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  2. A. Atkinson, 2003. "Multidimensional Deprivation: Contrasting Social Welfare and Counting Approaches," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 51-65, April.
  3. Duclos, Jean-Yves & Sahn, David & Younger, Stephen D., 2001. "Robust Multidimensional Poverty Comparisons," Cahiers de recherche 0115, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  4. Nicole Rippin, 2010. "Poverty Severity in a Multidimensional Framework: The Issue of Inequality between Dimensions," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 47, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  5. Satya R. Chakravarty & Conchita D'Ambrosio, 2003. "The Measurement of Social Exclusion," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 364, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  6. Gaston Yalonetzky, 2013. "Stochastic Dominance with Ordinal Variables: Conditions and a Test," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(1), pages 126-163, January.
  7. Kai-yuen Tsui, 2002. "Multidimensional poverty indices," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 69-93.
  8. BOSSERT, Walter & CHAKRAVARTY, Satya R. & D'AMBROSIO, Conchita, 2009. "Multidimensional Poverty and Material Deprivation," Cahiers de recherche 12-2009, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  9. Sabina Alkire, 2011. "Multidimensional Poverty and its Discontents," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp046, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  10. Christopher J. Bennett and Shabana Mitra, 2011. "Multidimensional Poverty: Measurement, Estimation, and Inference," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp047, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  11. 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.
  12. James E. Foster & Mark McGillivray & Suman Seth, 2013. "Composite Indices: Rank Robustness, Statistical Association, and Redundancy," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(1), pages 35-56, January.
  13. 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, vol. 51(1), pages 145-174, 03.
  14. Koen DECANCQ & María Ana LUGO, 2010. "Weights in multidimensional indices of well-being: an overview," Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers ces10.06, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën.
  15. 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.
  16. Martin Ravallion, 2012. "Mashup Indices of Development," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 27(1), pages 1-32, February.
  17. Sen, Amartya, 1997. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292975, March.
  18. Bourguignon, F. & Chakravarty, S.R., 1998. "The Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty," DELTA Working Papers 98-12, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  19. Alkire, Sabina & Foster, James, 2011. "Counting and multidimensional poverty measurement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 476-487.
  20. Ma. Casilda Lasso de la Vega, 2009. "Counting poverty orderings and deprivation curves," Working Papers 150, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  21. Sabina Alkire and James Foster, 2010. "Designing the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (HDI)," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp037, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  22. 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, vol. 6(1), pages 73-87, March.
  23. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-31, March.
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