The State of Multidimensional Child Poverty in South Asia: A Contextual and Gendered View

Many poverty measures identify a household as poor or non-poor based on the achievements of all its members. Using the household as the unit of identification has the benefit of enabling a poverty measure to draw on information about persons of different ages and genders, and in different life situations. However, it also loses individual information because this is summarized at the level of the household.  For example, the underlying microdata contain additional information on individual children. As a consequence, gendered and intrahousehold inequalities, for instance, are not evident even when data for them exist. This paper proposes methods to augment a household multidimensional poverty index (MPI) by applying individual-level analyses to the same dataset, and analysing these alongside the matrix of deprivations underlying an MPI. In particular we scrutinise (i) what proportion of deprived children live in multidimensionally poor households; (ii) what proportion of deprived children are girls or boys; and (iii) what proportion of deprived children live in households in which other children are not deprived in that same indicator. We also observe (iv) what other deprivations deprived and poor children experience in addition to the focal deprivation. Finally, we study what proportion of people live in households where children of different ages experience two different child deprivations concurrently. More complex analyses can also be undertaken that combine information on the deprivation status of more than one eligible member, and we illustrate this to identify pioneer children, who completed six years of schooling although adults in their household have not. Overall, this study provides a prototype methodology that can be mainstreamed into subsequent national and global MPI analyses in order to shine a light on child poverty multidimensionally. We illustrate the methodology with analyses of the global MPI for seven countries in South Asia.

Citation: Alkire, S., Ul Haq, R. and Alim, A. (2019). ‘The state of multidimensional child poverty in South Asia: a contextual and gendered view’, OPHI Working Paper 127, University of Oxford.

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