Identifying the ‘Bottom Billion’: Beyond National Averages

OPHI Briefings

The world now carries over seven billion human beings. Where do the poorest billion of us – the ‘bottom billion’ in terms of multidimensional poverty – live? The question is important to constructing effective policies and informing institutions and movements seeking to reduce poverty. This note does two things: first, it zooms in on the poorest billion based on a multidimensional approach and, second, it goes beyond national aggregates. In particular, it looks at the bottom billion at the subnational level and uses, for the first time, individual poverty profiles. The analysis is based on the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) – a measure of acute poverty in over 100 developing countries, which includes information on health, education, and living standards. As we show, the MPI allows us to undertake subnational and individual level analyses and so go beyond national averages that hide inequality.

Citation: Akire, S., Roche, J.M. and Seth, S. (2013). 'Identifying the 'Bottom Billion': Beyond national averages', OPHI Briefing 14, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

See also OPHI Working Paper 61 (2013) and OPHI Research in Progress 39a (2013).

poverty measurement, Multidimensional Poverty Index, global MPI
OPHI Briefing 14 cover image

OPHI Briefing 14 cover image

Sabina Alkire, José Manuel Roche and Suman Seth
Series Name
OPHI briefings
Publication date
Publication Number
B 14