Multidimensional Poverty Indices: A Critical Assessment

PEP working paper series

48 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2016 Last revised: 16 Jul 2018

See all articles by Jean-Yves Duclos

Jean-Yves Duclos

Laval University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Luca Tiberti

Université Laval; Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP)

Date Written: January 19, 2016


This paper reviews and assesses issues involved in the measurement of multidimensional poverty, in particular the soundness of the various “axioms” and properties often imposed on poverty indices. It argues that some of these properties (such as those relating poverty and inequality) may be sound in a unidimensional setting but not so in a multidimensional one. Second, it addresses critically some of the features of recently proposed multidimensional poverty indices, in particular the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) recently put forward by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The MPI suffers from several unattractive features that need to be better understood (given the prominence of the index). The MPI fails in particular to meet all of three properties that one would expect multidimensional poverty indices to obey: continuity, monotonicity, and sensitivity to multiple deprivation. Robustness techniques to address some of the shortcomings of the use of such indices are briefly advocated.

Keywords: Multidimensional poverty; United Nations Development Program; Poverty; Inequality

JEL Classification: D31, D63, I32, O15

Suggested Citation

Duclos, Jean-Yves and Tiberti, Luca, Multidimensional Poverty Indices: A Critical Assessment (January 19, 2016). PEP working paper series, Available at SSRN: or

Jean-Yves Duclos (Contact Author)

Laval University ( email )

Quebec G1K 7P4
418-656-7096 (Phone)
418-656-9727 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Luca Tiberti

Université Laval ( email )

2214 Pavillon J-A. DeSeve
Quebec, Quebec G1K 7P4

Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP)

P.O. Box 30772-00100
ICIPE - Duduville Campus, Kasarani

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