India has witnessed high economic growth since the 1980s, and a reduction in the share of income poor, though the measured extent of this reduction varies, has been confirmed by different methods. Poverty, however, has multiple dimensions, hence this paper explores the improvement in other social deprivations. An analysis of poverty from a multidimensional perspective shows the prevalence of multiple overlapping deprivations among the poor. This paper analyses the change in multidimensional poverty in India between 1999 and 2006 using National Family and Health Surveys. We find a strong reduction in national poverty driven relatively more by some of the standard of living indicators, such as electricity, housing condition, access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities, than other social indicators. The reduction, however, has not been uniform across different population subgroups and the pattern of reduction across states has been less pro-poor that of income poverty. In addition, the poorer subgroups have shown slower progress, widening the inter-group disparity in multidimensional poverty. In order to examine trends among the poorest of the poor, we define two additional subgroups of the poor and find that multidimensional poverty reduction has been accompanied by even stronger reductions in the share of the poorest of the poor by both definitions. The in-depth analysis pursued in this paper can also be conducted for other developing countries.
Citation: Alkire, S. and Seth, S. (2013). “Multidimensional Poverty Reduction in India Between 1999 and 2006: Where and How?” OPHI Working Papers 60, University of Oxford.