Friday, August 6, 2010

World Poverty Measures

"[T]he Multidimensional Poverty Index...seeks to build up a picture of the prevalence of poverty based on the fraction of households who lack certain basic things. Some of these are material...Others relate to education...Still others relate to health."

The Economist, "A useful new way to capture the many aspects of poverty," July 31, 2010.

The thinking behind the MPI is that income doesn't tell the whole story -- and is not always predictive.

"A household is counted as poor if it is deprived on over 30% of the ten indicators used."

For example, Ethiopia has much higher poverty according to the MPI than the percentage of people earning less than $1.25 a day. On the other hand, Uzbekistan has minimal multidimensional poverty but over forty percent of its people have incomes less than $1.25 per day.

"[T]he things the MPI measures are not particularly useful for middle-income countries, which have figured out how to get their people clean water and enough food but where other kinds of poverty still exist.

What else might we count in the U.S. besides income and various benefits? Education? Transportation? Healthy food? Skills? Sometimes the focus on income keeps us from seeing the multidimensional nature of poverty.

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