The Missing Dimensions of Poverty Data
Money alone is an incomplete measure of ‘poverty’. Human development is more about giving people the opportunities to live lives they value, and enable them to achieve their own destiny. This goes beyond material resources – as people value many other aspects of life – and also focuses on what people are able to be and to do.
OPHI has identified five ‘Missing Dimensions’ of poverty that deprived people cite as important in their experiences of poverty. To call attention to these ‘missing dimensions’, and to use them as a guide to policy, better data are needed.
OPHI promotes collection and analysis of data on five ‘missing dimensions’ of poverty.
- Quality of work
- Physical safety
- Ability to go about without shame
- Psychological wellbeing
To date, these dimensions have been largely overlooked in large-scale quantitative work on poverty and human development. OPHI has designed five short, 8-10 minute questionnaire modules that can be integrated into national household surveys to obtain these data.
For a brief overview of this research theme, read OPHI’s poster on the missing dimensions of poverty.
The following criteria were used to identify suitable indicators for inclusion in individual or household surveys.
- The indicators need to be internationally comparable.
- They should assess both the instrumental and the intrinsic aspects of each dimension.
- They must enable identification of changes in the missing dimensions over time.
- They should draw on previous experience of particular indicators; notably we tried to use indicators that had been previously fielded and found to be ‘adequate’ measures for research purposes.
Progress to date
OPHI has been testing and refining the modules and undertaking data collection since early 2007. Further details of the projects and resources used, including the survey questions in several languages, are available through the links on the left.
OPHI has ongoing collaborations with teams around the world to test and improve the modules and to produce new data and qualitative and quantitative analyses on the missing dimensions.
New analysis by PEP-funded researchers in Chad shows that the contribution of the missing dimensions – such as job insecurity or lack of physical safety – is considerable in the general level of deprivation for households’ well-being in one of the world’s poorest countries. Information on the project and outcomes are on the PEP website, including a Working Paper (in French, forthcoming in English).
The first nationally representative dataset and analyses were conducted in Chile through collaborations with Ministerio de Planificación y Cooperación (MIDEPLAN), República de Chile and Centro de Microdatos, Facultad de Economía y Negocios and Universidad de Chile.
Smaller scale data collection and analysis projects are underway in Sri Lanka and, Nigeria, in collaboration with the Poverty and Economic Policy Research Network (PEP Network). In the Philippines, OPHI is working with Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) to identify new indicators that could be collected in census data and used to hold local governments accountable.
A book on OPHI’s missing dimensions of poverty data is also available in Mandarin Chinese. You can read more about the book on OPHI’s website here. Additionally you can order the book from the Science Press Website.
To contact OPHI about our research on missing dimensions, please email: email@example.com.