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Beyond Headcount: Measures that Reflect the Breadth and Components of Child Poverty

  • Sabina Alkire and Jose Manuel Roche

This paper presents a new approach to child poverty measurement that reflects the breadth and components of child poverty. The Alkire and Foster method presented in this paper seeks to answer the question ‘who is poor’ by considering the intensity of each child’s poverty. Once children are identified as poor, the measures aggregate information on poor children’s deprivations in a way that can be broken down to see where and how children are poor. The resulting measures go beyond the headcount by taking into account the breadth, depth or severity of dimensions of child poverty. The paper illustrates one way to apply this method to child poverty measurement, using Bangladeshi data from four rounds of the Demographic Health Survey covering the period 1997–2007. Results for Bangladesh show that the AF adjusted headcount ratio adds value because it produces a different ranking than the simple headcount, because it also reflects the simultaneous deprivations children experience (intensity). Given this, we argue that child poverty should not be assessed only according to the incidence of poverty but also by the intensity of deprivations that batter poor children’s lives at the same time. The Bangladesh example is used to illustrate how to compute and interpret the child poverty figures, how the final measure can be broken down by groups and by dimensions in order to analyse child poverty, how to interpret changes over time, and how to undertake robustness checks concerning the poverty cut-off.

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Paper provided by Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford in its series OPHI Working Papers with number ophiwp045.

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Date of creation: Jul 2011
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Handle: RePEc:qeh:ophiwp:ophiwp045
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  1. Di Tommaso, Maria Laura, 2007. "Children capabilities: A structural equation model for India," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 436-450, June.
  2. Alkire, Sabina & Foster, James, 2011. "Counting and multidimensional poverty measurement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 476-487.
  3. Diego Battiston & Guillermo Cruces & Luis Felipe Lopez Calva & Maria Ana Lugo & Maria Emma Santos, 2009. "Income and Beyond: Multidimensional Poverty in six Latin American countries," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0090, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  4. Juan Carlos Feres & Xavier Mancero, 2001. "El método de las necesidades básicas insatisfechas (NBI) y sus aplicaciones en América Latina," DOCUMENTOS DE INVESTIGACION 002525, CEPAL NACIONES UNIDAS.
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  7. Alkire, Sabina, 2008. "Choosing Dimensions: The Capability Approach and Multidimensional Poverty," MPRA Paper 8862, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Md. Shafiul Azam & Katsushi Imai, 2009. "Vulnerability and Poverty in Bangladesh," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 0905, Economics, The University of Manchester.
  9. Mario Biggeri & Renato Libanora & Stefano Mariani & Leonardo Menchini, 2006. "Children Conceptualizing their Capabilities: Results of a Survey Conducted during the First Children's World Congress on Child Labour," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(1), pages 59-83.
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  11. Siddiqur Rahman Osmani, 2005. "Poverty and Human Rights: Building on the Capability Approach," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(2), pages 205-219.
  12. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, 2003. "The Human Development Paradigm: Operationalizing Sen'S Ideas On Capabilities," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2-3), pages 301-317.
  13. Yélé Batana, 2013. "Multidimensional Measurement of Poverty Among Women in Sub-Saharan Africa," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 112(2), pages 337-362, June.
  14. François Bourguignon & Satya Chakravarty, 2003. "The Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 25-49, April.
  15. Enrique Delamonica & Alberto Minujin, 2007. "Incidence, Depth and Severity of Children in Poverty," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 82(2), pages 361-374, June.
  16. Nolan, Brian & Whelan, Christopher T., 1996. "Resources, Deprivation, and Poverty," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287858, March.
  17. Roelen, Keetie & Gassmann, Franziska, 2008. "Measuring Child Poverty and Well-Being: a literature review," MPRA Paper 8981, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
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