Category Archives: Publications

Endogenous Weights and Multidimensional Poverty: A Cautionary Tale

Composite measures such as multidimensional poverty indices depend crucially on the weights assigned to the different dimensions and their indicators. A recent strand of the literature uses endogenous weights, determined by the data at hand, to compute poverty scores. Notwithstanding their merits, we demonstrate both analytically and empirically how a broad class of endogenous weights violates key properties of multidimensional poverty indices such as monotonicity and subgroup consistency. Without these properties, anti-poverty policy targeting and assessments are bound to be seriously compromised. Using real-life data from Ecuador and Uganda, we show that these violations are widespread. Hence, one should be extremely careful when using endogenous weights in measuring poverty. Our results naturally extend to other welfare measures based on binary indicators, such as the widely studied asset indices.

Citation: Dutta, I., Nogales, R. and Yalonetzky, G. (2021): ‘Endogenous weights and multidimensional poverty: A cautionary tale’, OPHI Working Paper 135, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

A Birdseye View of Well-being: Exploring a Multidimensional Measure for the United Kingdom

This paper explores a new approach to capturing well-being and human development in a single, joint multidimensional index that is at once intuitive, rigorous and policy salient. Based on Amartya Sen’s capability approach and the Alkire-Foster method as adapted in Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index, the paper presents a new exploratory Multidimensional Well-being Index (MWI) for the United Kingdom. The aim of the paper is twofold: inform the debate on the measurement of well-being, and of human development more generally, and illustrate the added value of a single rigorous metric in the form of an index, as a complementary headline measure to GDP. The MWI presented here follows a subset of the domains and indicators from the official national well-being dashboard for the UK and is constructed from a single wave of Understanding Society (Wave 9) data. Findings are presented at the national level and decomposed by population subgroups and regions to reveal inequalities in well-being across the population. The indicators are data constrained so we recommend the results be interpreted as illustrating a methodology that could be insightful for policy if appropriate indicators were agreed by due process. Results show that 44% the population enjoys satisfactory levels of well-being, but this varies greatly. For instance, across ethnic groups, 53% of white people enjoy favourable well-being, but only 35% of other ethnic groups, and only 27% of people who self-identify as Black African/Caribbean or Black British. Many people report lacking a balanced diet and minimum physical exercise, as well as feeling unhappy, anxious and not feeling satisfied with income or leisure time, that highlights the need for policy focus on these areas if well-being is to be raised and maintained for all.

Citation: Alkire, S. and Kovesdi, F. (2020). ‘A birdseye view of well-being: Exploring a multidimensional measure for the United Kingdom’, OPHI Research in Progress 60a, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

Moderate Multidimensional Poverty Index: Paving the Way out of Poverty

This paper introduces a trial Moderate Multidimensional Poverty Index (MMPI) that provides a meaningful superset of existing global multidimensional poverty indices. Eradicating poverty in all its forms everywhere requires indicators that measure sustainable pathways out of poverty, not only the absence of extreme deprivation. The MMPI increases the deprivation cutoff of nine of the ten indicators of the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (gMPI) to reflect moderate rather than acute levels of multidimensional poverty, in line with the ambitions outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The MMPI is constructed as a superset to the global MPI maintaining the three dimensions of health, education and living standards, but adjusting nine of the indicators to reflect a meaningful change in the level of ambition. The trial MMPI is data-constrained, but provides a methodology and discusses potential indicators for an MMPI that would: i) be globally comparable across countries at all income levels, ii) align the indicators with the higher standards for development as defined in the Agenda 2030, and iii) allow us to study some aspects of intrahousehold deprivation. The trial MMPI is illustrated empirically using nationally representative household surveys from Thailand, Iraq, Tanzania, Serbia, Guatemala, and Bangladesh. The empirical results in the six countries show the added value of having three layered measures of destitution, acute poverty, and moderate poverty. The MMPI aligns reasonably well with the established monetary poverty levels in lower middle-income countries ($3.2 / day) and in upper middle-income countries ($5.5/day), yet with some informative differences. The results demonstrate that the MMPI is feasible, has desirable properties as a global poverty index, and allows to unearth thus far hidden aspects in poverty measurement, such as intrahousehold deprivations in education. Still, challenges remain in terms of data availability for certain indicators and a study across additional countries is required before an MMPI structure can be finalized.

Citation: Alkire, S., Kovesdi, F., Scheja, E. and Vollmer, F. (2020). ‘Moderate Multidimensional Poverty Index: Paving the way out of poverty’, OPHI Research in Progress 59a, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index 2012

Women play a critical and potentially transformative role in agricultural growth in developing countries, but they face persistent obstacles and economic constraints limiting further inclusion in agriculture.

The WEAI measures the empowerment, agency, and inclusion of women in the agriculture sector in an effort to identify ways to overcome those obstacles and constraints. The Index is a significant innovation in its field and aims to increase understanding of the connections between women’s empowerment, food security, and agricultural growth.

The WEAI is a composite measurement tool that indicates women’s control over critical parts of their lives in the household, community, and economy. It allows us to identify women who are disempowered and understand how to increase autonomy and decision-making in key domains. It is also a useful tool for tracking progress toward gender equality, which is one of the Millennium Development Goals.

OPHI collaborated with USAID and the IFPRI to develop the innovative index.

Download the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index 2012 brochure.

Measuring Progress Toward Empowerment – Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index: Baseline Report

The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) is a ground-breaking tool to measure the empowerment, agency and inclusion of women in the agriculture sector.

Launched in March 2012 by OPHI with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the WEAI tracks women’s engagement in agriculture in five areas: production, resources, income, leadership, and time use. Unlike any other tool, it also measures women’s empowerment relative to men within their households, providing a more robust understanding of gender dynamics within households and communities.

Read more about WEAI
Download the WEAIL Baseline Report 2014

Multidimensional Poverty and COVID-19 Risk Factors: A Rapid Overview of Interlinked Deprivations across 5.8 Billion People

OPHI Briefing 53a (PDF, 12 pages)

Multidimensional poverty data and measurement are key allies in confronting the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Formulating an effective response to this global crisis requires an understanding of the overlapping deprivations faced by people around the world, deprivations that can result in increased vulnerability to COVID-19. The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) provides clear, immediate evidence of these interlinked deprivations, making interventions more effective, high impact, and durable.

This briefing uses data from the global MPI database for 2020 and covers 103 countries and 5.8 billion people to show at a glance critical facts for the COVID-19 response.

Download OPHI Briefing 53a

Authors: Sabina Alkire, Jakob Dirksen, Ricardo Nogales and Christian Oldiges
Year: 2020

Citation: Alkire, S., Dirksen, J., Nogales, R. and Oldiges, C. (2020). ‘Multidimensional poverty and COVID-19 risk factors: A rapid overview of interlinked deprivations across 5.8 billion people’, OPHI Briefing 53a, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

Multidimensional Poverty and Vulnerability to COVID-19: A Rapid Overview of Disaggregated and Interlinked Vulnerabilities in Sub-Saharan Africa

OPHI Briefing 54a (PDF, 16 pages)

This Briefing presents a 2020 global MPI update to the 2019 global MPI analyses and results presented in: OPHI Briefing 54, ‘Multidimensional Poverty and Vulnerability to COVID-19: A Rapid Overview of Disaggregated and Interlinked Vulnerabilities in Sub-Saharan Africa’, OPHI, 2020. 

Included are updated data and results for nine coun­tries, which cover over 35% of both the population and poor persons in the region.

The briefing provides evidence on the situation across 479 subnational regions and 40 countries of sub-Saharan Africa. It maps some simultaneous deprivations that people are already facing so that policy actors can adjust their COVID-19 responses based on differing levels of vulnerability. Maps on the OPHI website cover each of the 479 regions in greater depth.

Download OPHI Briefing 54a

Authors: Sabina Alkire, Jakob Dirksen, Ricardo Nogales and Christian Oldiges
Year: 2020
Citation: Alkire, S., Dirksen, J., Nogales, R. and Oldiges, C. (2020). ‘Multidimensional poverty and vulnerability to COVID-19: A rapid overview of disaggregated and interlinked vulnerabilities in Sub-Saharan Africa’, OPHI Briefing 54a, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, University of Oxford.

Understanding Poverty in Africa

OPHI Briefing 56 (PDF, 20 pages)

This briefing synthesises information from the 2020 global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) with a focus on Africa. It provides multidimensional poverty data for 48 African countries, covering 1.25 billion people living on the continent using household surveys fielded between 2010 and 2019. In addition, the 2020 global MPI also includes trend data for 37 African countries enabling a focus on how poverty is changing on the African continent.

Download OPHI Briefing 56.
OPHI Briefing 56 is also available in French.

Authors: Ross Jennings and Christian Oldiges
Year: 2020

Citation: Jennings, R. and Oldiges, C. (2020). ‘Understanding Poverty in Africa’, OPHI Briefing 56. Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, University of Oxford.

Income Mobility in a Changing Macroeconomic Environment

The analysis of income mobility is often constrained to short-term periods of survey panel data. This paper provides long-term income mobility trends through a continuum of short- term synthetic panels in Mexico. The examined period of analysis (1989–2018) is characterized by the lack of panel data and by a changing macroeconomic environment. The analysis builds on cross-sectional survey data using the methodology developed in Bourguignon and Moreno (2020) and employs several income mobility indicators from three complementary conceptions used in the literature: positional mobility, directional movement, and mobility as an equalizer of longer-term incomes. This research documents low levels of economic mobility over the course of three decades, except for the periods of rebound economic growth following the two deepest economic crises in modern times: one internal, in 1995, and one external – in 2009. These movements, however, seem to be only transitory deviations as income mobility indicators soon returned to their characteristic levels.

Citation: Moreno, H. (2020): ‘Income mobility in a changing macroeconomic environment’, OPHI Working Paper 134, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, University of Oxford.

Multidimensional Poverty in Angola 2020

This report presents the findings of the Multidimensional Poverty Index of Angola (A-MPI) to guide more informed decisions on issues related to poverty eradication. The report is the product of a long and strategic partnership between the National Statistics Institute (INE), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). The Angolan MPI responds to one of the priority actions included in Angola’s National Development Plan (PDN) 2018–2022. Resulting from in-depth technical consultations, the Angolan MPI is made up four essential dimensions: health, education, quality of life and employment.

The report is based on the 2015–2016 Multiple Health Indicators Survey (IIMS) and considers people living with at least 30% of the deprivations analyzed to be multidimensionally poor. These deprivations are divided into four dimensions: health, education, quality of life and employment .

Key findings based on the 2015–2016 data include:

  • 54% of Angolans are multidimensionally poor.
  • Poverty is more pronounced among children under the age of 10.
  • In urban areas, about 1 in 3 people (35% of the population) is multidimensionally poor, while in rural areas this figure rises to 9 in 10 people (88% of the population).
  • In Luanda, 23.7% of the population is multidimensionally poor, but in Bié, Cunene, Lunda Norte, Moxico, Cuando Cubango, Uíge, Huíla, Cuanza Sul and Huambo, multidimensional poverty affects at least 70% of the province’s population.

Download the report ‘Multidimensional Poverty in Angola 2020’.