Inequality measure needed to ensure poverty reduction reaches the poorest, OPHI research paper suggests

Poverty measures should be supported by a separate assessment of inequality among the poor, new research published by OPHI has argued.

The authors emphasise that policy initiatives designed to reduce only the incidence of poverty can too often overlook the poorest of the poor, instead focusing on lifting the marginally poor out of poverty. They argue that monitoring inequality among poor people is crucial for ensuring that those furthest from the poverty line or cut-off benefit equally from resources.

The paper proposes a new inequality measure, designed to capture the variety of deprivations that poor people experience across different areas of their lives. The measure is applied to data from Haiti and India to shed valuable light on the equality of poverty reduction in each country.

Although multidimensional poverty went down over time in both countries by a statistically significant amount, there were some key contrasts between the two. In Haiti, the findings show that poverty reduction between 2006 and 2012 was relatively greatest among the poorest of the poor. This led to a decrease in inequality between poor people both on a national scale and within sub-national regions. However, in India, data from 1999 to 2006 reveals a much smaller relative reduction in poverty among the poorest poor, resulting in only a modest decrease of inequality between poor populations.

Read the full paper

‘Did Poverty Reduction Reach the Poorest of the Poor? Assessment Methods in the Counting Approach’, by Suman Seth and Sabina Alkire, was published in the OPHI working paper series in November 2014.

Find out more about OPHI’s work on inequality

Read a briefing paper on inequality among the poor, based on findings from the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2014.

Download OPHI Working Paper 23, on inequality and human development.