Children and Multidimensional Poverty: Four Measurement Strategies

OPHI Working Papers

Empirically, official multidimensional measures of poverty often show children to be the poorest age group. Such poverty measures and their analysis can be used to directly inform policies to reduce children’s multiple deprivations. This paper introduces methods to produce official national statistics on multidimensional poverty that inform child-focused anti-poverty policies. In doing so, it recognises the importance of parsimonious, consistent measures, given practical constraints such as policy makers’ time. The paper does not recommend constructing several disjoint poverty measures which cannot be straightforwardly interpreted and used alongside one another, as these may create confusion or dilute policy attention. To create a compact and high-information measurement platform, the paper introduces four measurement strategies that have been used to directly uncover policy-relevant data on children’s experience of multidimensional poverty, and that are consistent with official population-level statistics. The four are as follows: (1) Include children’s deprivations as indicators of multidimensional poverty in national measures. (2) Disaggregate multidimensional poverty indices and their associated information platform to compare children and adults. (3) Analyse individual child deprivations and explore gendered and intra-household inequalities. (4) Construct an individual measure of child multidimensional poverty that is directly linked to the official national measure, but contains additional indicators across the life course of children. The paper illustrates these four strategies and the child-relevant statistics they yield, using examples from official poverty measures and previous research. It discusses the strengths and challenges of each method from conceptual, policy, and technical perspectives, and examines how they can be used for descriptive and prescriptive purposes in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Citation: Dirksen, J. and Alkire, S. (2021). ‘Children and multidimensional poverty: Four measurement strategies’, OPHI Working Paper 138, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

Also published in Sustainability, 2021, Vol. 13(16), 9108. It is published under an open access Creative Common CC BY license; any part of the article may be reused without permission provided that the original article is cited.

children; multidimensional poverty, child poverty, SDGs; disaggregation, intra-household inequality


Jakob Dirksen and Sabina Alkire

Series Name
OPHI Working Papers
Publication date
JEL Codes
I32, I38, D63, O15, Q01
Publication Number
WP 138