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Multidimensional indices of achievements and poverty: What do we gain and what do we lose?


  • Nora Lustig

    () (Tulane University and Center for Global Development)


Poverty and wellbeing are multi-dimensional. Nobody questions that deprivations and achievements go beyond income. There is, however, sharp disagreement on whether the various dimensions of poverty and wellbeing can be aggregated into a single, multi-dimensional index in a meaningful way. Is aggregating dimensions of poverty and wellbeing useful? Is it sensible? Here I summarize and contrast three key papers that respond these questions in strikingly different ways. The papers are: The HDI 2010: New Controversies, Old Critiques by Jeni Klugman, Francisco Rodríguez and Hyung-Jin Choi; Understandings and Misunderstandings of Multidimensional Poverty Measurement by Sabina Alkire and James Foster; and, On Multidimensional Indices of Poverty by Martin Ravallion.

Suggested Citation

  • Nora Lustig, 2011. "Multidimensional indices of achievements and poverty: What do we gain and what do we lose?," Working Papers 210, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  • Handle: RePEc:inq:inqwps:ecineq2011-210

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maluccio, John A. & Flores, Rafael, 2004. "Impact evaluation of a conditional cash transfer program," FCND briefs 184, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Martin Ravallion & Shaohua Chen & Prem Sangraula, 2009. "Dollar a Day Revisited," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 23(2), pages 163-184, June.
    3. Nora Lustig, 2011. "Commitment to Equity Assessment (CEQ): A Diagnostic Framework to Assess Governments' Fiscal Policies Handbook," Working Papers 1122, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    4. Sergei Soares & Natália Sátyro, 2009. "O Programa Bolsa Família:Desenho Institucional,Impactos E Possibilidades Futuras," Discussion Papers 1424, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada - IPEA.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bucheli, José R. & Bohara, Alok K. & Villa, Kira, 2016. "The Impact of a Rural Road Development Project on Multidimensional Poverty in Nepal," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235214, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. Jamshed Y. Uppal & Syeda Rabab Mudakkar, 2013. "Human Development and Economic Uncertainties: Exploring Another Dimension of Development," Lahore Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, The Lahore School of Economics, vol. 18(Special E), pages 305-334, September.
    3. David Madden, 2015. "Health and Wealth on the Roller-Coaster: Ireland, 2003–2011," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 121(2), pages 387-412, April.

    More about this item


    poverty measurement; multidimensional poverty; deprivation; axioms; Human Development Index; capabilities; substitutability; trade-offs; welfare; country classifications;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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