Category Archives: Publications

Transitions in Poverty and Deprivations: An Analysis of Multidimensional Poverty Dynamics

This paper explores a novel way to analyse poverty dynamics that are specific to certain measures of multidimensional poverty, such as the “adjusted headcount ratio” proposed by Alkire and Foster (2011a). Assuming there is panel data available, I show that a simultaneous and comprehensive account of transitions in deprivations and poverty allows complex interdependencies between dimensions in a dynamic context to be handled and, at the same time, allows for several advanced types of analyses. These analyses include (i) a decomposition of changes in multidimensional poverty, which reveals why poverty decreases or increases; (ii) a framework to examine and understand the relationship between the dashboard approach and dimensional contributions and multidimensional poverty in a dynamic setting; (iii) a presentation of methods that illuminate the process of the accumulation of deprivations. The suggested types of analyses are illustrated using German panel data. The implications for monitoring, policy evaluation and strategies for analyses using repeated cross-sectional data are discussed.

Citation: Suppa, N. (2017). “Transitions in poverty and deprivations: An analysis of multidimensional poverty dynamics.” OPHI Working Paper 109, University of Oxford

Measuring Malnutrition and Dietary Diversity: Theory and Evidence from India

Adequate nutrition constitutes one of the most basic dimensions of human well-being. Ample evidence exists for the functional link between a diverse diet and health outcomes or economic performance. However, a concise measure to capture nutritional diversity that utilizes typical household-level data, often the only data available in developing countries, is yet to be developed. In this paper, I propose a theoretical framework for such a measure by extending the Alkire-Foster (AF) methodology. The new framework enables the calculation of both the incidence and intensity of nutritional deprivation. Applying this framework, I construct a Nutritional Deprivation Index (NDI) for Indian states using household survey data on food consumption. The NDI is unique, and, compared to existing measures, it is more effective in both identifying the inadequately nourished and revealing the extent of food deprivation.

Citation: Oldiges, C. (2017). “Measuring malnutrition and dietary diversity: Theory and evidence from India.” OPHI Working Paper 108, University of Oxford.

Measures of Human Development: Key Concepts and Properties

The measurement of human development is a rich field which has seen a veritable explosion of new and innovative international indices. With the advent of the Sustainable Development Goals’ and their emphasis on interlinkages across deprived conditions, and with the promise of a ‘data revolution’ it seems that the proliferation of new indices that track multiple inter-related phenomena will continue. This paper sets out two basic set of criteria that, we believe, would be very helpful for structuring new policy metrics, and would provide human development experts, statisticians, and others with tremendously useful concepts to bear in mind when assessing and using different societal indices. The first criteria, ably articulated in Foster Seth Lokshin and Sajaia recently, is to clarify whether a human development indicator measures well-being, inequality, or poverty. These features of any population are distinct and each are of singular importance, but it is also useful not to confuse them. The second criterion is to ensure that the structure of the index is clearly explained. In particular, we discuss the importance of clarifying four methodological features: whether an index can be broken down by indicator; whether it can be disaggregated by population subgroup; whether it reflects the joint or overlapping conditions of a person, or evaluates dimensions one by one, and what kinds of weights or values are used to construct the composite index. While these criteria may seem, on the face of it, rather dry, a clear answer to each is essential (and also rather powerful) to understanding the policy relevance of each index.

Citation: Alkire, S. (2016). “Measures of Human Development: Key concepts and properties.” OPHI Working Paper 107, University of Oxford.

Composite Indices, Alternative Weights, and Comparison Robustness

Composite indices are widely used and can be highly influential. Yet most remain controversial owing to inter alia the arbitrary selection of component weights. Several studies have proposed testing the robustness of rankings generated by composite indices with respect to alternative weights but have not provided sufficient guidance on the choice of these alternatives. This paper proposes a holistic yet theoretically novel approach for selecting sets of alternatives weights and assessing comparison robustness that is applicable to linear composite indices with any finite number of dimensions. This approach is applied to robustness testing of inter-temporal country improvements generated by arguably the world’s most influential composite development index, the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI). More than two-thirds of HDI country improvements between 1980 and 2013 were found to be not robust to the selected set of alternative weights.

Citation: Seth, S. and McGillivray, M. (2016). “Composite indices, alternative weights, and comparison robustness.” OPHI Working Paper 106, University of Oxford.

Growth and Poverty Revisited from a Multidimensional Perspective

The actual impact of economic growth on poverty reduction is of fundamental importance to the development agenda, especially in view of the Sustainable Development Goals. So far, studies have focused on income poverty. This paper offers new empirical evidence on growth and poverty measured from a multidimensional perspective using the global Multidimensional Poverty Index. Results from a first difference estimator model suggest that while economic growth reduces multidimensional poverty, this impact is well below a one-to-one relationship. We also find that economic growth has a far bigger impact on reducing income poverty than on reducing multidimensional poverty. Results from an alternative cross-section model also support this result and additionally suggest that countries with higher levels of exports, a higher share of industry and services in their GDPs, and higher control of corruption have lower multidimensional poverty. All in all, the results highlight the need for countries to grow in order to reduce poverty, but they simultaneously suggest the limited power of economic growth per se to achieve grand reductions in poverty.

Citation: Santos, M. E., Dabus, C., and Delbianco, F. (2016). “Growth and poverty revisited from a multidimensional perspective.” OPHI Working Paper 105, University of Oxford.


Chad Multidimensional Deprivation and Vulnerability Survey

This paper summarises the results of The Chad Multidimensional Deprivation and Vulnerability Survey (EPMVT), fielded from June to August 2012 in Chad. The EPMVT was designed to provide information on standard socio-economic variables and five additional ‘missing dimensions’ of poverty data, namely, dimensions that people living in poverty continue to mention as constituent parts of their experience yet for which there are no comparable international data. Specifically, the EPMVT collected information on the characteristics of the household’s dwelling unit, education, employment, disabilities, fertility levels and mortality, breastfeeding and infant feeding practices, early child marriage, and hand-washing practices. In addition, data were collected on work quality, physical safety, empowerment, dignity, and psychological wellbeing. These data have two additional advantages for poverty analysis. First, the EPMVT was designed to be merged with a sub-sample of the 2011 Consumption and the Informal Sector in Chad survey (ECOSIT III). This merger facilitates having consumption data alongside the new variables tested in the EMPVT, as well as taking advantage of other relevant socio-economic variables present in the ECOSIT survey. Second, the EPMVT collected information from the head of the household and all eligible women age fifteen and older from the same household, making intra-household comparisons possible.

Citation: Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). (2016). “Chad Multidimensional Deprivation and Vulnerability Survey.” OPHI Working Paper 104, University of Oxford.

Multidimensional Poverty Index – Summer 2016: Brief Methodological Note and Results

Brief42_thumbOPHI Briefing 42

The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2016 updates use the same parameters (dimensions, indicators, cutoffs and weights) and the same functional form (Alkire and Foster Adjusted Headcount Ratio M0) as in previous years. This brief methodological note presents the 2016 MPI updates, and releases the tables with the full results: national MPI, destitution and vulnerability results, rural, urban, subnational region, changes over time, and complete estimations, as well as complementary data, dimensional breakdowns, and confidence intervals. Destitution data are now available for 100 countries. It first explains the main updates in the 2016 MPI, following the guidelines for updates presented in the 2014 Methodological Note (Alkire, Conconi and Seth 2014b). It uses the MPI methodology that has been presented in detail in previous methodological notes (Alkire and Santos 2010; Alkire, Roche, Santos and Seth 2011; Alkire, Conconi and Roche 2013; Alkire, Conconi and Seth 2014b). Then it briefly describes the methodological assumptions considered for the estimation of each dataset. The results of these estimations are presented in the form of 7 main tables, 102 country briefings and the interactive databank, all available on OPHI’s website (

Authors: Sabina Alkire, Christoph Jindra, Gisela Robles and Ana Vaz

Year: 2016

Pauvrete multidimensionnelle en Afrique

Brief43_thumbOPHI Briefing 43 (pdf)

Se basant sur des riches bases de données d’enquêtes auprès des ménages (EDS et MICS), l’indice international de pauvreté multidimensionnelle (IPM) recouvre 46 pays d’Afrique1 comptant un peu plus d’un milliard d’habitants. Parmi eux, 54%, c’est à dire 544 millions sont multidimentionnellement pauvres.

Auteurs: Sabina Alkire, Christoph Jindra, Gisela Robles et Ana Vaz

Year: 2016

Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2016

Brief41_thumbOPHI Briefing 41 (pdf)

The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is an index of acute multidimensional poverty that covers over 100 developing countries. It assesses the nature and intensity of poverty, by directly measuring the overlapping deprivations poor people experience at once, then building up from this information. It provides a vivid picture of how and where people are poor, within and across countries, regions and the world, enabling policymakers to better target their resources at those most in need through integrated policy interventions that tackle the many different aspects of poverty together. The MPI was developed in 2010 by OPHI and the UNDP’s Human Development Report Office, and has been proposed as an indicator in the Sustainable Development Goals, which view ‘poverty in its many dimensions’.

Authors: Sabina Alkire and Gisela Robles

Year: 2016

Multidimensional Poverty in Africa

Brief43_thumb OPHI Briefing 40 (pdf)

Drawing on rich datasets from national household surveys (DHS and MICS), the 2016 global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) covers 46 countries in Africa,1 which are home to just over 1 billion people.2 Of these, 54% of the population, 544 million people, are multidimensionally poor.

Authors: Sabina Alkire, Christoph Jindra, Gisela Robles and Ana Vaz

Year: 2016