Working Paper: 81

Multidimensional Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa: Levels and Trends

This paper provides an overview of multidimensional poverty – levels and trends – in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), using the most recent estimations and analyses of the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which was developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), launched in 2010 and reported in UNDP’s Human Development Reports. The global MPI 2014 covers 37 SSA countries, which are home to 91% of the population of the region. This paper synthesizes the main results: the levels of poverty in SSA overall as well as in West, East, Central and Southern Africa. It compares the MPI in rural and urban areas and the MPI with income poverty. It also summarizes results on inequality among the poor as this is highest in SSA countries. In terms of poverty dynamics, of the 19 SSA countries for which we have time-series data, 17 – covering 93% of the poor people across all 19 – had statistically significant reductions in multidimensional poverty. Finally, we scrutinize the situation in SSA according to a new measure of destitution, which identifies a subset of poor people as destitute if they experience a number of extreme deprivations like severe malnutrition or losing two children. Throughout this analysis, the paper demonstrates the descriptive analyses that multidimensional poverty indices enable – such as decomposition and dynamic analysis of poverty by subnational groups and ethnic groups, and the breakdown and dynamic analysis of the composition of the MPI according to its constituent indicators.

Citation: Alkire, S. and Housseini, B. (2014). “Multidimensional Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa: Levels and Trends.” OPHI Working Papers 81, University of Oxford.