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On multidimensional indices of poverty

  • Ravallion, Martin

There has been a growing interest in what have come to be termed"multidimensional indices of poverty."Advocates for these new indices correctly point out that command over market goods is not all that matters to peoples'well-being, and that other factors need to be considered when quantifying the extent of poverty and informing policy making for fighting poverty. However, the author argues that there are two poorly understood issues in assessing these indices. First, does one believe that any single index can ever be a sufficient statistic for poverty assessments? Second, when aggregation is called for, should it be done in the space of"attainments,"using prices when appropriate, or that of"deprivations,"using weights set by the analyst? The paper argues that the goal for future poverty monitoring efforts should be to develop a credible set of multiple indices, spanning the dimensions of poverty most relevant to a specific setting, rather than a single multidimensional index. When weights are needed, they shouldn't be set solely by an analyst measuring poverty. Rather, they should be, as much as possible, consistent with well-informed choices made by poor people.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5580.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5580
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  1. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2002. "Rich and powerful? Subjective power and welfare in Russia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2854, The World Bank.
  2. Jean-Yves Duclos & David Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2006. "Robust Multidimensional Spatial Poverty Comparisons in Ghana, Madagascar, and Uganda," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 20(1), pages 91-113.
  3. François Bourguignon & Satya Chakravarty, 2003. "The Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 25-49, April.
  4. 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.
  5. Jean-Yves Duclos & David Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2006. "Robust Multidimensional Poverty Comparisons with Discrete Indicators of Well-being," Cahiers de recherche 0628, CIRPEE.
  6. Alkire, Sabina & Foster, James, 2011. "Counting and multidimensional poverty measurement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 476-487, August.
  7. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-64, July.
  8. Chakravarty, Satya R. & Deutsch, Joseph & Silber, Jacques, 2008. "On the Watts Multidimensional Poverty Index and its Decomposition," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 1067-1077, June.
  9. Kai-yuen Tsui, 2002. "Multidimensional poverty indices," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 69-93.
  10. repec:oup:restud:v:49:y:1982:i:2:p:183-201 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Sabina Alkire & Maria Emma Santos, 2010. "Acute Multidimensional Poverty: A New Index for Developing Countries," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2010-11, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  12. 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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