Construction of an internationally comparable Child Multidimensional Poverty Index

Child poverty remains a widespread phenomenon in low- and middle-income countries. While growing up in poverty has been shown to have long-term consequences, indices to measure child multidimensional poverty are relatively underdeveloped. In this paper, we develop the first internationally comparable ‘linked’ child multidimensional poverty index (C-MPI). This index augments the global Multidimensional Poverty Index by incorporating child-specific considerations. We adapt the Alkire-Foster dual-cutoff method to provide a framework for building an index where relevant indicators vary across ages, and demonstrate its decomposability properties. Using data from the most recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey wave, we use the C-MPI to compare child poverty across 21 countries. We find that child poverty is not always similar to household poverty, both in terms of incidence and cross-country rankings. These findings highlight the necessity to consider child-specific deprivations when evaluating child poverty. We also illustrate how the index can be decomposed to analyse the composition of child poverty, finding high incidence of deprivations in literacy, numeracy and child punishment among 7- to 14-year-old children.

Richard Freund is a Quantitative Research Assistant at Young Lives, an international study of childhood poverty. He holds a Bachelor of Business Science from the University of Cape Town and an Msc in Economics for Development from the University of Oxford.

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