The Sustainable Development Goal 1.2 commits countries around the world to reducing at least by half the proportion of the population living in poverty in all its dimensions, according to national definitions. This page provides a guide on how to measure this goal using a National or Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).
- What do we report?
- How do we report this?
- Shall we make a National MPI?
- Why an MPI?
- How are countries using the MPI?
- Why do we measure poverty in all its dimensions?
- How does the MPI support the SDG agenda?
- How can OPHI help countries measure progress towards SDG-1?
The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is a measure that helps to monitor progress towards the most challenging Goal: End Poverty in All Its Forms by 2030. The MPI addresses poverty in multiple forms and dimensions, and explores how these deprivations are interlinked and overlapping.
Many countries are reporting the incidence of multidimensional poverty associated with their global and/or national MPI for SDG indicator 1.2.2. These countries include Belize, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Philippines, and Sierra Leone. The incidence (also called the poverty rate, or the headcount ratio, of MPI) is the number of poor people divided by the total number of people in the population.
Global MPI: Global MPI: First of all, if your team is not familiar with the global MPI, check this two page document. To report a global MPI figure for your country, please click here. While most governments use the MPI as the official figures, to report against SDG 1.2.2 you select Headcount Ratio or H. If you are reporting the global MPI this is found in Table 1.2 column H. For a table with a list of your SDG indicators from the Global MPI, select your country from this drop-down list.
If you do not yet have a national MPI and are interested in constructing one, you can find a two-page introductory document on how to do so here. Constructing a National MPI for the first time takes 6 months to 2 years in most cases, from the start of the process to the launch of the official statistic. After the initial design phase, national MPI updates can often be released just two weeks after the cleaned survey data have been shared. What is critically important is that both the statistical community and the policy community work together to design the National MPI – because both of these communities must own the measure – and use it.
Based on the Alkire-Foster method, the MPI has been used for many to energise policies to fight poverty in many dimensions because it:
- Measures acute or moderate poverty in multiple dimensions
- Provides a clear, informative poverty headline
- Tracks change in poverty
- Tracks change in each of its dimensions separately
- Enables policy coordination across sectors
- Can be disaggregated by groups and indicators, to show success in leaving no one behind
- May be mapped to environmental conditions
- Compares non-monetary deprivations directly, independent of prices, inflation, or currency
The method has been used to develop an internationally comparative measure, the global MPI, as well as to develop national MPI measures that reflect each country’s local context. The methodology, developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) can be introduced in 12 steps.
The Global MPI was updated in June 2016 and covers 102 countries with data since 2005-2015, which are home to 75 per cent of the world’s population, or 5.2 billion people. Of these, 30 per cent, or 1.6 billion people, have been identified as multidimensionally poor. Over time, MPIs have been computed for 119 countries, with several points in time available for most countries.
A comprehensive look at the Global MPI can be found here.
Across the globe — from Mexico to Pakistan, Senegal to Bhutan, Costa Rica to the Philippines — countries are using the MPI as a powerful tool to energise interventions that stop poverty. The MPI is a tool because it doesn’t only have a headline figure. The MPI also breaks down to give detailed consistent information on the level, trends and indicator-by-indicator composition of poverty for different regions and for marginalised groups. It is information-rich, yet easy to communicate.
Countries at present are learning from each other and innovating themselves. Colombia’s President Santos championed a policy round-table with key ministers so that joined-up coordinated policies can meet ambitious poverty reduction targets. Costa Rica’s President Solis and Vice President Chacon used the MPI to weed out duplication, tighten budget allocation, and spend more where help is most needed. Mexico’s President Peña Nieto targeted the extreme multidimensionally poor people through the National Strategy for Inclusion. Under President Xi, China has accurately targeted 70 million people and is fighting to end poverty via proactive and high profile integrated household and community programming by 2020.
In Pakistan, which has recently launched its official national MPI, policy makers have recognised that income inequality is just one aspect of inequality in the country. The MPI there enables the government to better tackle gender, regional and digital divides within the country. Links to governments and statistical offices using MPIs can be found here.
The argument for a measure that moves beyond a simple, monetary measure to capture a more comprehensive picture of poverty has been gathering support in recent years – particularly since multidimensional aspects of poverty were not included in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The United Nations Secretary General Report from December 2014 endorsed the idea that poverty measures should reflect the multidimensional nature of poverty: “Member States have recognized the importance of building on existing initiatives to develop measurements of progress… These metrics must be squarely focused on measuring social progress, human wellbeing, justice, security, equality, and sustainability. Poverty measures should reflect the multi-dimensional nature of poverty.”
A point echoed in the UN’s My World survey – which surveyed ten million people – and by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). They presented the MPI as Indicator 3 of Goal 1 “End poverty in all its forms everywhere”. “We therefore propose using the Alkire and Foster method of calculation, and setting a threshold of multiple deprivations, to determine who is or is not considered poor”.
Of course, a single person may be poor in several dimensions – deprived simultaneously, say, of schooling, healthcare and decent sanitation. Oxford University’s Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) developed a global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in 2010 to capture such multiple deprivations in education, health and other living standards. The Global MPI is restricted to 10 indicators that are widely available. National MPIs, in contrast, use the indicators and weights that the country chooses because they most accurately reflect its MPI.
Many countries are using the MPI to measure progress towards the first SDG. Why? Here are some reasons.
- Leave No One Behind MPI analysis tracks progress on poverty for different groups. Existing MPI data allows us to see poverty by, for example sub-national regions, by rural and urban areas, and by groups such as children, ethnic groups, and caste (uk)
- Monitor Progress: the MPI is used to track and compare multidimensional poverty over time. National MPIs are used to compare regions and groups within a country; A regional or Global MPI can also compare countries.
- Integrated, coordinated policy Whether in China or Colombia the MPI is used by senior policy makers to coordinate policy and to understand and track the impact of their policies on the poor, helping to break down silos and intensify policy impact.
- Universal relevance National and regional MPI measures are tailor made to context. They address moderate or acute poverty and reflect contextual values and definitions.
The MPI illuminates for policy makers who is poor, how they are poor and how intensely they suffer poverty. Such detailed analysis will help to achieve a crucial aspiration for the global drive to end poverty: ensuring no one is left behind.
OPHI and the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network provide technical and policy support to countries through the whole process of introducing and using multidimensional measures. For more information please contact us.
- Constructing a Multidimensional Poverty Measure
- Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2016
- Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network. Connecting Policymakers Globally
- Multidimensional poverty and SDG documents
- List of organizations using MPI
- Find out more about the SDGs
Dr Ana Vaz, Senior Research Officer at OPHI, led a webinar presenting OPHI’s new research project on the use of Alkire-Foster class of measures in evaluating the impact of social protection schemes. The webinar held on Monday March 20 2017 included a two-hour presentation followed by a Q&A and covered:
1) introduction to OPHI’s impact evaluation research plans and activities for 2017;
2) illustration of the type of impact evaluation using AF measures;
3) discussion on challenges and solutions to issues that may arise in such analyses;
The webinar provided an opportunity for a lively discussion on the prospects of using the Alkire Foster method for multidimensional impact evaluation in different contexts.
OPHI and the Organization of American States signed a Joint Declaration on March 9 to promote the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) both nationally and regionally in the Americas. In a formal ceremony in the headquarters of the Organization of American States, the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro stated that it was essential for international organizations such as the OAS and OPHI to join forces to promote the adoption of the MPI as a technical tool that allows governments to better understand poverty and provides the data for better monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.
Sabina Alkire noted that OPHI has already worked with the OAS in promoting south south exchanges and training. She highlighted that 12 Latin American countries would participate the week of March 13 in a one-week OPHI led seminar on the MPI method in Bogotá, Colombia. The training is supported by the OAS, as well as by the Government of Colombia.
The Joint Declaration establishes a formal working Group between the OAS and OPHI to develop ways of supporting the work of the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network, OPHI and the OAS. The declaration calls for support of capacity building in OAS member countries to help them adopt effective public policies to tackle poverty and promote human development. This OAS-OPHI collaboration will facilitate interactions, trainings and south-south exchanges, as well as joint research projects and joint regional events—all with the aim of promoting inclusive development through better measurement and more targeted social programs to tackle poverty in its many dimensions.
Professor Amartya Sen spoke in Oxford on Wednesday 18 January.
11:00 Professor Sen presented key new chapters of the forthcoming volume Collective Choice and Social Welfare
17:00 Distinguished Public Lecture entitled “Democracy and Social Decisions” by Professor Amartya Sen
The live stream can also be watched in our U-stream channel
Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen will deliver a lecture on “Democracy and Social Decisions” at 5pm on Wednesday 18 January in the Sheldonian Theatre, Broad Street, Oxford. http://www.ophi.org.uk/Sen2017/