4th May 2011
The application of multidimensional poverty measures is proliferating, in part due to the emphasis in Goal 1 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions. This paper first traces the emergence of a priority for non-monetary poverty measures in key texts that considered then set out the SDGs. It then outlines some vital and feasible research questions on a sub-set of fascinating empirical topics on counting-based multidimensional measures. The topics covered here relate to the SDGs’ focus on measuring the multidimensional poverty of men, women, and children. Building on the existing literature, fascinating questions remain in terms of measurement design (the selection of dimensions, indicators, cutoffs, and weights), the analysis of multidimensional poverty measures, their application to child poverty and their implementation using gendered data. In each of these areas, it is expected that significant breakthroughs are possible.
Citation: Alkire, S. (2018). ‘The research agenda on multidimensional poverty measurement: important and as-yet unanswered questions’, OPHI Working Paper 119, University of Oxford.
Poverty measurement is strewn with imperfection. And yet, even understanding limitations such as data quality and coverage, measures of multidimensional poverty have proven to be relevant policy tools. This paper first situates muldimensional poverty measures in the Sustainable Development Goals, which seek to End Poverty in all its forms and dimensions (italics added). It then explains a key distinguishing feature between multidimensional and monetary poverty measures, namely, that multidimensional poverty measures have an associated ‘information platform’ which provides the deprivations in each indicator, as well as the headcount ratio or poverty rate, and the intensity of poverty overall, and does so both nationally and for all groups by which the dataset can be disaggregated. Furthermore, multiple poverty lines are often set and reported. Bearing this informational richness in mind, the paper then canvasses the main ways that policy actors are using multidimensional poverty indices (MPIs) and their associated informational platform to shape policy. For example, a permanent official MPI complements the national monetary poverty measure, often drawing attention to different groups of poor persons. Also, the MPI design often includes participatory exercises and expert consultations, thus catalysing a national conversation about what is poverty. Like any national statistic, the MPI is used to monitor change and show the trend in a phenomenon of public importance. Further, the MPI, with its disaggregation by group and breakdown by indicator, is often used as part of the budget allocation formulae, for example, across subnational regions. The MPI is also used for targeting in two senses: targeting the poorest areas or social groups, and also (using a different dataset), targeting households that are eligible to benefit from certain schemes. One of the most powerful roles of the MPI is to support policy coordination which – in line with the SDG emphasis – facilitates integrated multisectoral policies that can be more cost-effective and high-impact methods for addressing interconnected deprivations and managing change. Finally, for many countries, the MPI is part of a new emphasis on the transparency and accountability of statistics, for example by posting data tables, or even datasets and computer algorithms online so students and researchers can fruitfully join the intellectual task of finding better ways to confront human disadvantage and suffering. The paper closes by referring to some new research areas that might further enrich this unfolding discipline.
Citation: Alkire, S. (2018). ‘Multidimensional poverty measures as relevant policy tools’, OPHI Working Paper 118, University of Oxford.
The UK Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) has instituted an ‘Excellence in Impact’ awards scheme to celebrate impacts achieved by social scientists from four institutions – the Universities of Reading and Oxford, The Open University and Oxford Brookes University. Projects are rewarded for demonstrating “novel and thriving” ways in which social sciences research makes a difference both in the UK and globally.
At an awards ceremony in St Anne’s College on 19 April OPHI was judged to fall into the Highly Commended category, along with the Refugee Economies Programme of its sister research centre, the Refugee Studies Centre, within the Oxford Department of International Development.
OPHI’s award, which was received by Policy & Outreach Director Adriana Conconi, recognised work with international institutions such as the World Bank and the UN Development Programme on multidimensional poverty measurement methodology in furtherance of the global Sustainable Development Goals.
More info here.
Picture: Adriana Conconi and Paddy Coulter, OPHI Communications Director, at the ceremony (Picture by John Cairns.)
In April the pilot version of a new index was launched at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Headquarters in Rome designed to measure women’s empowerment, agency and inclusion in the agriculture sector.
The index, called the Project-Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (or Pro-WEAI) has been developed jointly by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), along with thirteen partner projects. The purpose of this new index is to help agricultural development projects identify areas of existing empowerment and disempowerment, track progress and measure impact.
The Pro-WEAI is an adaptation of the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), originally developed in 2012 by IFPRI, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and OPHI.
Pro-WEAI is composed of 12 indicators of women’s empowerment in agriculture, organised into three domains: intrinsic agency power within), instrumental agency (power to), and collective agency (power with).
Domains and Indicators of Pro-WEAI
Agnes Quisumbing, senior research fellow at IFPRI, said “The Pro-WEAI is a new tool that tells us what is happening within the household: Did participation in the project improve women’s control of income or intrahousehold harmony? Did it increase the possibility of domestic violence?”.
Bobbi Gray, research director of the Grameen Foundation, commented: “I believe the use of the Pro-WEAI tools is going to result in more approaches being designed in the future that engage men and women, maybe equally or in equitable ways—even if it’s for the benefit of women’s empowerment. This has been an eye-opening experience, and we look forward to continuing this sort of research in our other projects.”
Validation and testing of the index is still ongoing. The final version of the Pro-WEAI will be informed by the endline data and feedback from stakeholders and project partners.
More information is available at http://weai.ifpri.info/
A full recording of the Rome launch of the Pro-WEAI is available at http://www.fao.org/webcast/home/en/item/4695/icode/
Photo credit: Farha Khan/IFPRI
Since 2010, Bhutan has used a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) alongside consumption poverty to measure and fight poverty in all its forms and dimensions. Bhutan’s National MPI was updated on 2012 and 2017 using the Bhutan Living Standards Survey (BLSS). In 2017, the BLSS questionnaire included questions on disability status. This statistical note shows different ways by which the MPI can be disaggregated using the available information. Each way is implemented, and the results analysed. Thus, by presenting worked out empirical examples, we hope to contribute to the evolving methodological discussions of how best to disaggregate poverty measures including the MPI by disability status. In addition, we hope to contribute to robust and detailed understanding in Bhutan of the relationship between poverty and disability status, hence to inform policies that seek to address both. However, survey data are limited, and so, very importantly, we also advise re-running these results with the 2017 census data for a more precise picture. It is hoped this note will provide some structure for a census-based analysis.
Citation: Pinilla-Roncancio, M. and Alkire, S. (2018). ‘Statistical note: disaggregating Bhutan’s MPI 2017 by disability status’, OPHI Research in Progress 51a, University of Oxford.
This paper proposes a measure for deprivation in social participation, an important but so far neglected dimension of human well-being. Operationalisation and empirical implementation of the measure are conceptually guided by the capability approach. Essentially, the paper argues that deprivation in social participation can often be convincingly established by drawing on extensive non-participation in customary social activities. In doing so, the present paper synthesizes philosophical considerations, axiomatic research on poverty and deprivation, and previous empirical research on social exclusion and subjective well-being. An application using high-quality survey data for Germany supports the measure’s validity. Specifically, the results suggest, as theoretically expected, that the proposed measure is systematically different from related concepts like material deprivation and income poverty. Moreover, regression techniques reveal deprivation in social participation to reduce life satisfaction substantially, quantitatively similar to unemployment. Finally, questions like preference vs. deprivation, cross-country comparisons, and the measure’s suitability as a social indicator are discussed.
Citation: Suppa, N. (2018): ‘Walls of Glass: Measuring Deprivation in Social Participation’ OPHI Working Paper 117, University of Oxford.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) are at the core of sustainable development. As we embark on a new round of global goals, namely the Sustainable Development Goals, a top priority is to address a coherent framework for monitoring these services. In the coming years, the sector will witness the development of a variety of multidimensional monitoring measures, albeit from different perspectives. This paper reviews the relevant literature and discusses the adequacy and applicability of one approach that is increasingly adopted for multidimensional poverty measurement at the household level, the Alkire-Foster methodology. Drawing on this method, we identify and combine a set of direct household-related water and sanitation deprivations that batter a person at the same time. This new multidimensional measure is useful for gaining a better understanding of the context in which WaSH services are delivered. It captures both the incidence and intensity of WaSH poverty, and provides a new tool to support monitoring and reporting. For illustrative purposes, one small town in Mozambique is selected as the initial case study.
Citation: Giné-Garriga, R. and Pérez-Foguet, A. (2018). ‘Measuring sanitation poverty: a multidimensional measure to assess delivery of sanitation and hygiene services at the household level’. OPHI Working Paper 116, University of Oxford.
Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and Finance Minister Yanamala Rama Krishnudu launched on March 13, 2018 the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) Report 2017 for the state, the first of its kind in India. The MPI report was elaborated by the State Planning Department in collaboration with the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), based at the University of Oxford, in the UK.
Andhra Pradesh, one of India’s 29 states, is located on the southeastern coast of the country with a population of almost 50 million people.
According to the report, Andhra Pradesh’s MPI identifies 21% of its population as living in multidimensional poverty.
The State-level MPI in Andhra Pradesh uses the same structure as the Global MPI which was co-designed by OPHI and the UNDP. It monitors 10 indicators, such as school attendance, nutrition and safe drinking water, grouped into three dimensions: education, health and standard of living. The indicators are analysed using the Alkire Foster counting approach to multidimensional measurement.
Across countries, India is home to the largest number of MPI poor people in the world. According to the most recent data (2011/12), 41% of people are poor and the MPI value stands at 0.191. Andhra Pradesh’s MPI, in contrast, is 0.0825. The MPI ranges from 0 to 1; 0 being the best and 1 being the worst, and reflects the percentage of possible deprivations that are actually being experienced by poor persons in Andhra Pradesh today. The Andhra Pradesh’s MPI value falls between that of Sao Tome & Principe and Bolivia.
Within the Andhra Pradesh state, East Godavari has the lowest MPI among the districts, with a value of 0.047, while Vizianagaram has the highest, with a value of 0.127.
The multidimensional poverty headcount ratio of the State, which gives the proportion of people living in multidimensional poverty, fell from 41.6% in 2005-06 to 21% in 2016-17. The rural headcount ratio stands at 22% while for urban areas it is 19%.
By conducting this study, Andhra Pradesh has become the first state in the country to perform a household survey exclusively to estimate MPI at state and district levels, disaggregated by social categories and urban-rural areas. The end-to-end process, including sampling, data processing & analysis and estimation of headcount and Index values, was conducted with OPHI’s technical support.
Dr. Christian Oldiges, Research Officer from OPHI, was present at the launch. “OPHI has been in communication with the very motivated team in Andhra Pradesh since the start of this project. We are impressed by their innovation and dedication”, said Dr. Oldiges. “Our hope is that the MPI will be used to energise state-level policies and accelerate Andhra Pradesh’s progress in meeting many Sustainable Development Goals, and thus reducing poverty in all its forms and dimensions.”
The MPI development project was led by Alen John (Senior Associate), Bhaskar Somayaji (Consultant) and Soumya Guha (Associate) under the supervision and guidance of Prathima Reddy, Director at the Vision Management Unit, AP State Development Planning Society, Planning Department.
This paper considers the measurement properties of indices used to measure multidimensional child poverty in the developing world. Two indices are considered in detail: the Alkire Foster method (Alkire & Foster 2010) and the ‘categorical counting’ method as exemplified by UNICEF poverty indices based on methodologies by Gordon et al. (2003) and De Neubourg et al. (2013). This analysis examines the underlying differences between the two methodologies in two stages. First, using hypothetical data we consider the differences in measurement properties that arise from the axiomatic construction of indices using a laboratory approach. Second, we use harmonized Demographic and Health Surveys data from three countries to examine how the properties found in the laboratory data lead to actual differences in the measurement of the prevalence of multidimensional poverty within and across countries, and the ability of indices to monitor changes in the prevalence of multidimensional poverty. The paper concludes by considering the findings from the analysis and how they could be taken forward in future measurements of poverty prevalence and reduction in Sustainable Development Goals targets and indicators.
Citation: Evans, M.C. and Abdurazakov, A. (2018). ‘The measurement properties of multidimensional poverty indices for children: lessons and ways forward’. OPHI Working Paper 115, University of Oxford.