Category Archives: Publications

Measuring Autonomy: Evidence from Bangladesh

The search for rigorous, transparent, and domain-specific measures of empowerment that can be used for gendered analysis is ongoing. This paper explores the value-added of a new measure of domain-specific autonomy. This direct measure of motivational autonomy emanates from the ‘self-determination theory’ (Ryan and Deci, 2000). We examine in detail the Relative Autonomy Index (RAI) for individuals, using data representative of Bangladeshi rural areas. Based on descriptive statistical analyses, we conclude that the measure and its scale perform broadly well in terms of conceptual validity and reliability. Based on an exploratory analysis of the determinants of autonomy of men and women in Bangladesh, we find that neither age, education, nor income are suitable proxies for autonomy. This implies that the RAI adds new information about the individuals and is a promising avenue for further empirical exploration as a quantitative yet nuanced measure of domain-specific empowerment.

Citation: Vaz, A., Alkire, S., Quisumbing, A., and Sraboni, E. (2019). ‘Measuring autonomy: Evidence from Bangladesh’, OPHI Working Paper 125, University of Oxford.

Does the Hunger Safety Net Programme Reduce Multidimensional Poverty? Evidence from Kenya

The purpose of this research is to evaluate the short-term impact and long-term sustainability of Kenya’s Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP). Difference-in-difference and propensity score matching estimations are used to determine the impact of programme participation on the household multidimen­sional poverty index (MPI). We found that programme participation reduced the MPI significantly, which is mainly driven by the food insecurity dimension, and that the reduction in poverty is due to the reduction in the incidence and intensity, the latter in particular, of poverty among the ultra-poor households. Our analysis of the political economy of Kenya suggests that, while the government is making progress in the institutionalisation of social protection, weaknesses in the implementation and financing of the programme, as well as the short-term focus of impact evaluation, may undermine the programme’s poten­tial to help build a strong state that is accountable for the eradication of poverty.

Citation: Song, S. and Imai, K.S. (2018). ‘Does the Hunger Safety Net Programme reduce Multidimen­sional poverty? Evidence from Kenya’, OPHI Working Paper 124, University of Oxford.

How to Explain the Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty to the General Public: Workshop for Journalists in Colombia

 OPHI Briefing 52 (in English) (pdf 6 pages)

In 2011, Colombia made an important change to the way in which poverty is measured. Together with a review of the methodology to measure monetary poverty, the government introduced a new methodology for measuring poverty – the Multidimensional Poverty Index for Colombia (MPI-C). This new scenario generated an important challenge: how to explain the existence of two poverty figures (monetary and multidimensional) to people. DANE, the institution in charge of measuring and disclosing poverty figures using the two methodologies, addressed this challenge by training media editors and reporters at a workshop on multi dimensional poverty entitled ‘the unknown dimension’. Silvia Botello from DANE gives an overview of the workshop.

Author: Silvia Botello

Year: 2019

Also available in Spanish.

Citation: Botello, S. (2019). ‘How to Explain the Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty to the General Public: Workshop for Journalists in Colombia’, OPHI Briefing 52 (in English), University of Oxford.

El IPM para alcanzar las metas de reducción de la pobreza

 OPHI Briefing 51 (pdf 6 pages)

En julio de 2016, se emitió en Costa Rica la Directriz Presidencial N°045-MP en que se instó a todos los funcionarios del sector social a utilizar el Índice de Pobreza Multidimensional nacional como una herramienta oficial de medición, de información para asignación de recursos, de seguimiento y evaluación de los programas sociales. Previo al trabajo de cada institución para comenzar a planificar sus presupuestos considerando el IPM-CR, se realizó un ejercicio de simulación del posible impacto que tendría esta labor sobre la reducción de la pobreza multidimensional, cuyos resultados son el interés de este artículo. Este trabajo teórico fue realizado gracias a la alianza público privada entre el Gobierno de Costa Rica y la Asociación Horizonte Positivo, quienes se apoyaron en la firma consultora Cocobolo para el análisis estadístico de los datos.

Author: Andrés Fernández Arauz
Language: Spanish
Year: 2019
Citation: Fernández Arauz, A. (2019). ‘El IPM para alcanzar las metas de reducción de la pobreza’, OPHI Briefing 51, University of Oxford.

Does the Hunger Safety Net Programme Reduce Multidimensional Poverty? Evidence from Kenya

The purpose of this research is to evaluate the short-term impact and long-term sustainability of Kenya’s Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP). Difference-in-difference and propensity score matching estimations are used to determine the impact of programme participation on the household multidimen­sional poverty index (MPI). We found that programme participation reduced the MPI significantly, which is mainly driven by the food insecurity dimension, and that the reduction in poverty is due to the reduction in the incidence and intensity, the latter in particular, of poverty among the ultra-poor households. Our analysis of the political economy of Kenya suggests that, while the government is making progress in the institutionalisation of social protection, weaknesses in the implementation and financing of the programme, as well as the short-term focus of impact evaluation, may undermine the programme’s poten­tial to help build a strong state that is accountable for the eradication of poverty.

Citation: Song, S. and Imai, K.S. (2018). ‘Does the Hunger Safety Net Programme reduce Multidimensional poverty?: Evidence from Kenya’, OPHI Working Paper 124, University of Oxford.

Authors: Sophie Song and Katsushi S. Imai

Publication date: December 2018

JEL Codes: C23, I31, I32, I38, O22

ISBN: 978-19-1229-115-1

Copyright holder: Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative 

Does Aid Reduce Poverty?

Fifty years of literature on aid effectiveness has so far proven inconclusive. Two main challenges still require some attention. The first is to properly identify the causal effect of aid on poverty alleviation. To address it, I exploit differences in the number of years countries have been temporary members of the United Nations Security Council as an instrument for the average amount of economic aid disbursed by the United States. The second is to obtain reliable data on poverty, which I confront by using multidimensional poverty data from the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). For a sample of 64 developing countries, I estimate a significant relationship between higher amounts of aid received during the period 1946–1999 and lower Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) between 2000 and 2014. On the contrary, the relationship does not seem to be significant when poverty is measured from an income perspective. Alternative measures of poverty could help improve the understanding of the relationship between development aid and poverty alleviation and might also contribute to improved targeting for aid disbursements.

Citation: Milovich, J. Y. (2018). ‘Does aid reduce poverty?’, OPHI Working Paper 122, University of Oxford.

Assessing Deprivation with Ordinal Variables: Depth Sensitivity and Poverty Aversion

The challenges associated with poverty measurement within an axiomatic framework, especially with cardinal variables, have received due attention during the last four decades. However, there is a dearth of literature studying how to meaningfully assess poverty with ordinal variables, capturing the depth of deprivations. In this paper, we first propose a class of additively decomposable ordinal poverty measures and provide an axiomatic characterisation using a set of basic foundational properties. Then, in a novel effort, we introduce a set of properties operationalising prioritarianism in the form of different degrees of poverty aversion in the ordinal context, and characterise relevant subclasses. We demonstrate the efficacy of our methods using an empirical illustration studying sanitation deprivation in Bangladesh. We further develop related stochastic dominance conditions for all our characterised classes and subclasses of measures. Finally, we elucidate how our ordinal measurement framework is related to the burgeoning literature on multidimensional poverty measurement.

Citation: Seth, S. and Yalonetzky, G. (2018). ‘Assessing deprivation with ordinal variables: depth sensitivity and poverty aversion’, OPHI Working Paper 123, University of Oxford.

Multidimensional Poverty Reduction in India 2005/6–2015/16: Still a Long Way to Go but the Poorest Are Catching Up

This paper assesses the change in multidimensional poverty in India from 2005/6 to 2015/16 using data from the NFHS-3 and NFHS-4 surveys. Estimates of changes are disaggregated by age cohort, state and by socio-economic group-level, and broken down by indicator; sampling errors are considered throughout. Multidimensional poverty is defined using the global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2018 (Alkire and Jahan 2018).  The paper finds a very strong reduction, indeed a halving of the MPI during that decade. Furthermore, subnational patterns of poverty reduction are strongly pro-poor, whereas from 1998/9 to 2005/6 they had been regressive. The reductions of MPI are hardly correlated with state level growth in GDP, making this a rich terrain for future research. District level analyses in 2015/16 only document extensive ongoing intra and interstate variation. These explorations confirm that at the end of the decade under study, at least 271 million fewer persons were living in multidimensional poverty – a magnitude of change rivalling the numbers exiting monetary poverty in China.

Citation: Alkire, S., Oldiges, C. and Kanagaratnam, U. (2018). ‘Multidimensional poverty reduction in India 2005/6–2015/16: still a long way to go but the poorest are catching up’, OPHI Research in Progress 54a, University of Oxford.

Towards a Global Assets Indicator: Re-assessing the Assets Indicator in the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index

This paper explains the revision of the assets indicator of the updated global Multidimensional Poverty Index (global MPI), which was launched just before the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018. The joint decision of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) to revise the global MPI in 2018 to align it with the Sustainable Development Goals and to best monitor progress towards “leaving no one behind” provided the opportunity to assess the statistical validities of the assets indicator contained in the Original MPI, jointly designed by OPHI and UNDP Human Development Report Office (HDRO) in 2010, and an assets indicator included in an Innovative MPI, which was developed by UNDP HDRO in 2014. Further, considering the improvements in many Demographic and Health Surveys, Multiple Indicators Cluster Surveys and selected national surveys in recent years, from which the global MPI is constructed, the revision also offered an occasion to assess whether the inclusion of additional assets would add value to a revised asset index for the updated global MPI 2018. Taking into account a blend of inputs, including statistical test results, public consultations, normative reasoning and substantive trial measures of possible asset indices as outlined in detail in this paper, the revised assets indicator maintained the structure of the Original MPI, but added computer and animal cart as additional items. Here we explain the reasons and delineate the many decisions that were taken along the way.

Citation: Vollmer, F. and Alkire, S. (2018). ‘Towards a global asset indicator: re-assessing the asset indicator in the global Multidimensional Poverty Index’, OPHI Research in Progress 53a, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, University of Oxford.

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The New Global MPI 2018: Aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals

Early in 2018, the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Report Office (HDRO) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) agreed to adjust and unify their methodologies on poverty measurement and consider indicator improvements, in order to better monitor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This paper sets out the specifications of a joint global Multidimensional Poverty Index first published in 2018, which is an internationally comparable measure of acute poverty that captures the multiple deprivations poor people experience with respect to health, education and living standards.  It builds on the original MPI launched in 2010, and an innovative MPI launched in 2014. The best features of both of these are subsumed in the joint global MPI 2018, which also reflects new data possibilities to better align the global MPI to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Because the objective of revising the MPI to create a more credible and legitimate measure of multidimensional poverty that enables comparisons across countries using existing data was challenging to realize, the paper first sets out five key principles for a global poverty measure related to data coverage, communicability, comparability, disaggregation, and robustness.

Drawing on expert interventions, a global consultation, empirical trials, and these principles, the paper then explains conceptually the motivation and nature of adjustments that were made to five of the ten included indicators. It also recognizes desirable changes that could not be made due to data constraints – for example including data on the environment, work, and security, or on intrahousehold inequalities. And it identifies key issues for future research related to household composition and the use of land and livestock variables.

Citation: Alkire, S. and Jahan, S. (2018). The New Global MPI 2018: aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals’, OPHI Working Paper 121, University of Oxford.