Describe absolute poverty and differentiate between income poverty measures and UNDPs Multidimensional Poverty Index
Quantifying well-being or even poverty with sufficient consideration of their multidimensional nature has, in the last 30 years evolved into an extremely important aspect in observing development. This essay discusses absolute poverty and some of its measures such as the income measures and UNDP’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The MPI does well because it takes into consideration the distribution of deprivation contained in a variety of dimensions and the distribution of several deprivations over the dimensions. Viewing multidimensional poverty as something beyond merely a summation of poverty across numerous well-being dimensions is crucial (Duclos, 2011).
Income measures and UNDP’s MPI however vary in a number of ways which will be highlighted in this essay, as well as the preferred income poverty measurement method by development economists and the reasons measurement of Poverty should be an area of concern to developing countries.
Absolute poverty is the condition where an individual or household cannot obtain their basic needs including water, food, and shelter. Income poverty measures the deprivation of income required to access basic needs while UNDP’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) assesses deficiency over 3 dimensions; education, wealth, living standards, and 10 indicators.
The MPI offers a renewed and profoundly essential take on the measurement of poverty, allowing a holistic view of those living in poverty as well as enabling the comparison between countries or areas
Key Learning Outcomes
- Understand and discuss how income poverty measures are different from the UNDP’s
Multidimensional Poverty Index
- Discuss reasons why the measurement of Poverty should be an area of concern to developing countries
- Understand and discuss the income poverty measurement methods preferred by development economists
The comprehension of poverty as a multidimensional challenge has existed for a very long time despite the fact that it has been measured by one dimension only, which is income. The underlying assumption supporting this argument was that the level of income could fairly demonstrate the ability of people to attain some particular thresholds at the minimum within a number of dimensions such as housing, clothing, and nutrition (Alkire and Santos, 2013).
It is not possible to sufficiently measure poverty with income as clearly demonstrated by Amartya Sen’s capability framework. In the recent past, a unified agreement concerning the inadequacy of the income poverty measures has been gaining traction (Sen, 1992).
As stated by Todaro & Smith (2012), this is in part due to the fact that income is not perfectly (i.e. is imperfectly) measured and the benefits obtained from a particular amount of income significantly vary based on the circumstances. In order to incorporate this notion, the United Nations Development Program leveraged its Human Poverty Index (HPI) for the period between 1997 and 2009. The HPI was however substituted for the novel Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) by UNDP in the year 2010 (Todaro & Smith, 2012).
The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is a poverty measure that classifies people as poor by using dual cutoffs for levels and numbers of deprivations after which it proceeds to multiply the percentage of individuals living in poverty by the percent of weighted indicators for which poor households are deprived on average (Todaro & Smith, 2012).
The theoretical meaning and measurement of poverty have always garnered a multitude of disparate views which vary from a wide range of ideological and normative points of view and stir up controversies regarding technical challenges involved in poverty measurement (Saunders, 2004).
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