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Understandings and Misunderstandings of Multidimensional Poverty Measurement

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  • Sabina Alkire and James Foster

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 Foster-Greer-Thorbecke (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

  • Sabina Alkire and James Foster, 2011. "Understandings and Misunderstandings of Multidimensional Poverty Measurement," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp043, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:qeh:ophiwp:ophiwp043
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Gaston Yalonetzky, 2013. "Stochastic Dominance with Ordinal Variables: Conditions and a Test," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(1), pages 126-163, January.
    3. Jean-Yves Duclos & David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2006. "Robust Multidimensional Poverty Comparisons," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(514), pages 943-968, October.
    4. Satya R. Chakravarty & Conchita D'Ambrosio, 2006. "The Measurement Of Social Exclusion," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 52(3), pages 377-398, September.
    5. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-764, July.
    6. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-766, May.
    7. Alkire, Sabina & Foster, James, 2011. "Counting and multidimensional poverty measurement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 476-487.
    8. Christopher J. Bennett & Shabana Mitra, 2013. "Multidimensional Poverty: Measurement, Estimation, and Inference," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(1), pages 57-83, January.
    9. BOSSERT, Walter & CHAKRAVARTY, Satya R. & D’AMBROSIO, Conchita, 2009. "Multidimensional Poverty and Material Deprivation," Cahiers de recherche 2009-11, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
    10. François Bourguignon & Satya Chakravarty, 2003. "The Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 1(1), pages 25-49, April.
    11. Martin Ravallion, 2012. "Mashup Indices of Development," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 27(1), pages 1-32, February.
    12. 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, March.
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    15. Sabina Alkire and James Foster, 2010. "Designing the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (HDI)," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp037, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    16. Koen Decancq & María Ana Lugo, 2013. "Weights in Multidimensional Indices of Wellbeing: An Overview," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(1), pages 7-34, January.
    17. 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," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 6(1), pages 73-87, March.
    18. Sabina Alkire, 2011. "Multidimensional Poverty and its Discontents," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp046, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    19. 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.
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    More about this item

    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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