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Measuring Human Poverty: A Generalized Index and an Application Using Basic Dimensions of Life and Some Anthropometric Indicators

  • Satya Chakravarty
  • Amita Majumder

The Human Poverty Index (HPI) is a composite index of poverty that focuses on deprivations in human lives, aimed at measuring poverty as a failure in capabilities in multiple dimensions, in contrast to the conventional headcount measure focused on low incomes. The HPI was introduced in the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Report 1997 and concentrates on deprivations in basic dimensions of life. This paper develops an axiomatic characterization of a family of global deprivation indices using an arbitrary number of dimensions of human life. When we consider only the three basic dimensions, a member of this family becomes ordinally equivalent to HPI. The general index allows the calculation of percentage contributions of deprivations in different dimensions, and hence to identify the dimensions whose failures affect the overall deprivation more. This is important from a policy perspective. We also provide an empirical illustration of the characterized indices using cross-country data for the three basic dimensions and the anthropometric indicators birth weight, height for age and nourishment.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Human Development and Capabilities.

Volume (Year): 6 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 275-299

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jhudca:v:6:y:2005:i:3:p:275-299
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