OPHI Workshop on Multidimensional Measures in Six Contexts, 1-2 June 2009

Spaces are extremely limited so resources from this workshop will be made available on this webpage. We encourage comments and suggestions by email.

Multidimensional measures aggregate information on diverse attributes into a common tool of assessment. Such measures are widely used both by public and private sector institutions and perform a multiplicity of purposes. These include describing complex achievements (often to track changes over time, or to compare with others), targeting inputs, or monitoring and evaluating progress. However, the use of a specific multidimensional index entails many decisions regarding details of the measure, and these are often made in isolation from those developing measures in other contexts.

OPHI’s June 2009 small, high-level research workshop will examine several multidimensional measures used in six specific contexts – including the multidimensional poverty methodology developed by OPHI – to critically compare them, identify commonalities, advantages and disadvantages of different methodologies, and isolate shared weaknesses for which new methodologies should be developed.

The six contexts are: quality of education, child and youth poverty, governance and political freedom, fair trade, gender, and targeting of social programmes.

Most measures presented will:

  1. aggregate first across dimensions, and second (if at all) across people or institutions;
  2. identify good performance by applying a poverty line or a benchmark;
  3. employ at least some ordinal data;
  4. inform policy.

Despite the fact that our six measures vary both in unit of analysis and in relevant dimensions, the methodologies can be compared with respect to how they:

  • Normalize each indicator
  • Weight the different indicators within a measure
  • Compare across units and within units over time
  • Compute the indicators’ measurement error
  • Use cardinal and/or ordinal data with varying scale-ranges in a meaningful way
  • Identify the policy implications of the measure
  • Satisfy certain basic properties and axioms
  • Represent interactions between the constituent indicators

The workshop will have one to three presentations on each of the six areas. These will be thoroughly probed by a discussant, fostering a broader discussion among the whole group of participants. This sort of exchange may help to start building a consensus towards the desirable characteristics of this kind of multidimensional measurement methodologies, to raise awareness of techniques others use to address similar problems, to potentially strengthen certain existing measures, and to identify gaps for further methodological research.

OPHI was launched in 2007. This workshop represents an extension of its research on multidimensional poverty measurement to engage methodologies used in other contexts.