Understandings and Misunderstandings of Multidimensional Poverty Measurement

Journal of Economic Inequality Volume 9, Number 2 (2011), 289-314, DOI: 10.1007/s10888-011-9181-4

24 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2012

See all articles by Sabina Alkire

Sabina Alkire

Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative

James E. Foster

George Washington University

Date Written: May 1, 2011

Abstract

Multidimensional measures provide an alternative lens through which poverty may be viewed and understood. In recent work we have attempted to offer a practical approach to identifying the poor and measuring aggregate poverty (Alkire and Foster 2011). As this is quite a departure from traditional unidimensional and multidimensional poverty measurement – particularly with respect to the identification step – further elaboration may be warranted. In this paper we elucidate the strengths, limitations, and misunderstandings of multidimensional poverty measurement in order to clarify the debate and catalyse further research. We begin with general definitions of unidimensional and multidimensional methodologies for measuring poverty. We provide an intuitive description of our measurement approach, including a ‘dual cutoff’ identification step that views poverty as the state of being multiply deprived, and an aggregation step based on the traditional Foster Greer and Thorbecke (FGT) measures. We briefly discuss five characteristics of our methodology that are easily overlooked or mistaken and conclude with some brief remarks on the way forward.

Keywords: poverty measurement, multidimensional poverty, deprivation, FGT measures

JEL Classification: I3, I32, D63, O1

Suggested Citation

Alkire, Sabina and Foster, James E., Understandings and Misunderstandings of Multidimensional Poverty Measurement (May 1, 2011). Journal of Economic Inequality Volume 9, Number 2 (2011), 289-314, DOI: 10.1007/s10888-011-9181-4 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2118574

Sabina Alkire (Contact Author)

Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative ( email )

Queen Elizabeth House
3 Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3TB
United Kingdom

James E. Foster

George Washington University ( email )

2121 I Street NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States

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