Counting and Multidimensional Poverty Measurement (Revised and Updated)

OPHI Working Papers

This paper proposes a new methodology for multidimensional poverty measurement consisting of an identification method ρk that extends the traditional intersection and union approaches, and a class of poverty measures Mα. Our identification step employs two forms of cutoff: one within each dimension to determine whether a person is deprived in that dimension, and a second across dimensions that identifies the poor by ‘counting’ the dimensions in which a person is deprived. The aggregation step employs the FGT measures, appropriately adjusted to account for multidimensionality. The axioms are presented as joint restrictions on identification and the measures, and the methodology satisfies a range of desirable properties including decomposability. The identification method is particularly well suited for use with ordinal data, as is the first of our measures, the adjusted headcount ratio. We present some dominance results and an interpretation of the adjusted headcount ratio as a measure of unfreedom. Examples from the US and Indonesia illustrate our methodology. 

Authors: Sabina Alkire and James Foster

Year: 2009

Citation: Alkire, S. and Foster, J. (2009). 'Counting and multidimensional poverty measurement (revised and updated)', OPHI Working Paper 32, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

See also OPHI Working Paper 07 (2008) and OPHI Research in Progress 1a (2008).

This paper is also published in Journal of Public Economics, 2011, Vol. 95(7–8), pp. 476–487.

multidimensional poverty measurement, capability approach, identification, FGT measures, decomposability, ordinal variables
East Asia and the Pacific
North America
United States of America


Sabina Alkire and James E. Foster

Series Name
OPHI Working Papers
Publication date
JEL Codes
I3, I32, D63, O1, H1
Publication Number
WP 32