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Acute Multidimensional Poverty: A New Index for Developing Countries

  • Sabina Alkire and Maria Emma Santos

This paper presents a new Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for 104 developing countries. It is the first time multidimensional poverty is estimated using micro datasets (household surveys) for such a large number of countries which cover about 78 percent of the world´s population. The MPI has the mathematical structure of one of the Alkire and Foster poverty multidimensional measures and it is composed of ten indicators corresponding to same three dimensions as the Human Development Index: Education, Health and Standard of Living. Our results indicate that 1,700 million people in the world live in acute poverty, a figure that is between the $1.25/day and $2/day poverty rates. Yet it is no $1.5/day measure. The MPI captures direct failures in functionings that Amartya Sen argues should form the focal space for describing and reducing poverty. It constitutes a tool with an extraordinary potential to target the poorest, track the Millennium Development Goals, and design policies that directly address the interlocking deprivations poor people experience. This paper presents the methodology and components in the MPI, describes main results, and shares basic robustness tests.

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Paper provided by Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford in its series OPHI Working Papers with number ophiwp038.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:qeh:ophiwp:ophiwp038
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  1. Alkire, Sabina & Santos, María Emma, 2011. "Acute Multidimensional Poverty: A New Index for Developing Countries," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 3, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
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  14. Rachael Diprose, 2007. "Safety and Security: A proposal for Internationally Comparable Indicators of Violence," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp002, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
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  23. Solava Ibrahim and Sabina Alkire, 2007. "Agency & Empowerment: A proposal for internationally comparable indicators," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp005, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  24. A. Atkinson, 2003. "Multidimensional Deprivation: Contrasting Social Welfare and Counting Approaches," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 51-65, April.
  25. Alkire, Sabina, 2008. "Choosing Dimensions: The Capability Approach and Multidimensional Poverty," MPRA Paper 8862, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  26. Filmer, Deon, 2004. "If you build it, will they come? School availability and school enrollment in 21 poor countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3340, The World Bank.
  27. Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1998. "Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data - or tears : with an application to educational enrollments in states of India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1994, The World Bank.
  28. Mark R. Montgomery & Paul C. Hewett, 2004. "Urban Poverty and Health in Developing Countries: Household and Neighborhood Effects," Department of Economics Working Papers 04-01, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
  29. Baker, Judy & Basu, Rakhi & Cropper, Maureen & Lall, Somik & Takeuchi, Akie, 2005. "Urban poverty and transport : the case of Mumbai," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3693, The World Bank.
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