South Africa launches South African Multidimensional Poverty Index (SAMPI)

Statistics South Africa has published a report launching the South African Multidimensional Poverty Index (SAMPI), which uses the Alkire Foster (AF) method developed at OPHI.

Statistics SA, the national statistical service of South Africa, used the method in order to ‘improve poverty measurement for the country and to align ourselves with the growing international trend towards measuring poverty beyond the traditional money-metric method’, it states in the report. The new measure is intended to complement the money-metric measures already used in the country, including the food poverty line, the lower-bound poverty line and the upper-bound poverty line.

The SAMPI takes advantage of the flexibility of the AF method, which enables measures to be built which are sensitive to a specific country context. For example, alongside the three dimensions used in the Global MPI – heath, education and living standards – the SAMPI includes a fourth dimension on economic activity, using unemployment as the indicator.

Census data collected in 2001 and 2011 were used to compute an index for each year, allowing analysis of changes of multidimensional poverty levels during this time period. The report finds that there has been a significant improvment in multidimensional poverty levels in South Africa over the decade analysed, with a decrease from 17.9% in 2001 to 8% in 2011.

Nationally, the contribution of living standards and eduction to the SAMPI fell by 3.3% and 3.9% respectively over the time period, which the report attributes to improvements in the government’s delivery of basic services in these areas. However, the contribution of economic activity increased from 32.9% to 39.8%, suggesting that unemployment levels are a serious contributing factor to household poverty in 2011.

You can download the full report here.