Measuring Multidimensional Poverty in India: A New Proposal

OPHI Working Papers

This paper focuses on the methodology by which India’s 2002 Below the Poverty Line (BPL) census data identify the poor and construct a BPL headcount. Using the BPL 2002 methodology it identifies which rural families would have been considered BPL if NFHS (National Family Health Survey) data had been used rather than BPL census data. It compares these to poor families that would be identified using the same variables with the Alkire and Foster multidimensional poverty methodology. It finds that up to 12 per cent of the poor sample population and 33 per cent of the extreme poor could be misclassified as non-poor by the pseudo-BPL method. The paper also develops a sample Index of Deprivation that responds to criticisms regarding BPL data. We compare these results with income poverty and with pseudo-BPL status for sample respondents and disaggregate the index by state and break it down by dimension. 

Authors: Sabina Alkire and Suman Seth

Year: 2008 (revised in May 2009)

Citation: Alkire, S. and Seth, S. (2008). 'Measuring multidimensional poverty in India: A new proposal', OPHI Working Paper 15, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

A later version of this paper is published as OPHI Working Paper 53, and in Social Indicators Research, 2013, Vol. 122(2), pp. 417–446.

India, BPL, poverty measurement, multidimensional poverty, capability approach, poverty indices.
South Asia

Sabina Alkire, Suman Seth
Series Name
OPHI Working Papers
Publication date
JEL Codes
I3, I32
Publication Number
WP 15