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Multidimensional Poverty

Most countries of the world define poverty by income. Yet poor people themselves define their poverty much more broadly, to include lack of education, health, housing, empowerment, humiliation, employment, personal security and more. No one indicator, such as income, is uniquely able to capture the multiple aspects that contribute to poverty.

Multidimensional poverty encompasses a range of deprivations that a household may suffer. The number of indicators and specific indicators used depend on the purpose of the measure. Common purposes include national poverty measures that reflect changes over time, targeting of services or conditional cash transfers and monitoring and evaluation.

At a glance, multidimensional measures present an integrated view of the situation. We can also examine poverty by population group, or study the composition of deprivation for different groups. Multidimensional metrics are rigorous, easy to use, flexible, and adaptable to different contexts.

OPHI has developed and applied measures and tests of multidimensional poverty, wellbeing, chronic poverty and equality of opportunity. Find out more about the Alkire Foster method for multidimensional measurement.

View a presentation about OPHI’s work on multidimensional poverty in English or Russian.