Polarization of the Poor: Multivariate Relative Poverty Measurement Sans Frontiers

18 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2010  

Gordon Anderson

University of Toronto


A major impediment to poverty evaluation in environments with a multiplicity of wellbeing indicators is the difficulty associated with formulating a poverty frontier in many dimensions. This paper proposes two multivariate relative polarization measures which, in appropriate circumstances, serve as multivariate poverty measures which do not require computation of a poverty frontier. As poverty measures they have the intuitive appeal of reflecting the degree to which poor and non-poor societies are polarized. (The measures would also have considerable application in studying multivariate convergence issues in economic growth models.) The measures are exemplified in a poor-non-poor country study over the period 1990-2005, based upon the joint distribution of per capita GNP and Life Expectancy. The results suggest that as a group, the world's poor are experiencing diminished poverty polarization; however, within the world's poor the African nations are experiencing increased poverty polarization.

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Gordon, Polarization of the Poor: Multivariate Relative Poverty Measurement Sans Frontiers. Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 56, No. 1, pp. 84-101, March 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1551556 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4991.2009.00364.x

Gordon John Anderson (Contact Author)

University of Toronto ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7

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