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Methods matter: The sensitivity of Malawian poverty estimates to definitions,data, and assumptions


  • Ulrik Beck
  • Karl Pauw Author-Name:Richard Mussa


This paper decomposes differences between the official poverty estimates of Malawi and a set of revised estimates by Pauw et al. (2016, forthcoming) with respect to five methodological differences: (i) the use of a revised set of unit conversion factors; (ii) the specification and use of regional poverty lines as opposed to a single national poverty line; (iii) the use of implicit survey-based prices rather than external price data; (iv) estimation of food separate poverty lines in the two surveys; and (v) permitting a change in the food/non-food composition of the consumption basket over time. Our results suggest that the decline in national poverty varies between 3.4 and 8.4 percentage points, compared to the official estimate of a decline of 1.8 percentage points.

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  • Ulrik Beck & Karl Pauw Author-Name:Richard Mussa, 2015. "Methods matter: The sensitivity of Malawian poverty estimates to definitions,data, and assumptions," WIDER Working Paper Series 126, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2015-126

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pauw, Karl & Beck, Ulrik & Mussa, Richard, 2014. "Did rapid smallholder-led agricultural growth fail to reduce rural poverty? Making sense of Malawi's poverty puzzle," WIDER Working Paper Series 123, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Gunther, Isabel & Grimm, Michael, 2007. "Measuring pro-poor growth when relative prices shift," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 245-256, January.
    3. Tarp, Finn & Simler, Kenneth & Matusse, Cristina & Heltberg, Rasmus & Dava, Gabriel, 2002. "The Robustness of Poverty Profiles Reconsidered," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 77-108, October.
    4. Verduzco-Gallo, Íñigo & Ecker, Olivier & Pauw, Karl, 2014. "Changes in food and nutrition security in Malawi: Analysis of recent survey evidence:," MaSSP working papers 6, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    Cited by:

    1. Hina Nazli & Edward Whitney & Kristi Mahrt, 2015. "Poverty trends in Pakistan," WIDER Working Paper Series 136, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Mussa, Richard, 2017. "To Err is Human: Inconsistencies in Food Conversion Factors and Inequality in Malawi," MPRA Paper 75981, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Astrid Mathiassen & Bjørn K. Wold, 2019. "Challenges in predicting poverty trends using survey to survey imputation. Experiences from Malawi," Discussion Papers 900, Statistics Norway, Research Department.

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    growth; poverty; Malawi; poverty measurement;

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