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Understandings and Misunderstandings of Multidimensional Poverty Measurement

Author

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  • James E. Foster

    () (Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), Oxford Department of International Development, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford Oxford.)

  • Sabina Alkire

    () (The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford)

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 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.

Suggested Citation

  • James E. Foster & Sabina Alkire, 2011. "Understandings and Misunderstandings of Multidimensional Poverty Measurement," Working Papers 2011-18, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:gwi:wpaper:2011-18
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sabina Alkire & James Foster, 2010. "Designing the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI)," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2010-28, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
    2. Walter Bossert & Satya R. Chakravarty & Conchita D'Ambrosio, 2009. "Multidimensional poverty and material deprivation," Working Papers 129, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    3. Kai-yuen Tsui, 2002. "Multidimensional poverty indices," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 19(1), pages 69-93.
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    5. 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.
    6. Sabina Alkire and Maria Emma Santos, "undated". "Acute Multidimensional Poverty: A New Index for Developing Countries," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp038, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    7. Ma. Casilda Lasso de la Vega, 2009. "Counting poverty orderings and deprivation curves," Working Papers 150, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
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    11. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    poverty measurement; multidimensional poverty; deprivation; FGT measures; decomposability; joint distribution; axioms.;

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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