Multidimensional Measurement of Poverty in Sub Saharan Africa

Since the seminal work of Sen, poverty has been recognized as a multidimensional phenomenon. The recent availability of relevant databases renewed interest in this approach. This paper estimates multidimensional poverty in fourteen Sub-Saharan African countries using the Alkire and Foster multidimensional poverty measures, whose identification method is based on a counting approach. Four dimensions are considered: assets, health, schooling and empowerment. The results show important differences in poverty among the countries of the sample. The multidimensional poverty estimates are compared with some standard measures such as the Human Development Index (HDI) and the income poverty headcount ratio. It is found that including additional dimensions into the analysis leads to country rankings different from those obtained with the two standard measures. Geographical decompositions and dimensions-break down indicate that rural areas are significantly poorer than urban ones and that schooling is in general the highest contributor to poverty. Finally, robustness and sensitivity analyses are done with respect to the number of dimensions in which deprivation is required so as to be considered poor (the across-dimensions cutoff) as well as to the poverty lines within each dimension. Several cases of dominance between countries are found in the first robustness test.

Citation: Batana, Y. (2008). “Multidimensional Measurement of Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.” OPHI Working Paper 13, University of Oxford.