Analysing Individual Deprivations alongside Household Poverty: Possibilities for Gendered, Intrahousehold, and Multidimensional Analyses

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This seminar is organised jointly with the Institute for International Economic Policy at George Washington University and the UNDP Human Development Report Office.
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Most poverty measures identify a household as poor or non-poor based on the achievements of all its members. Using the household as the unit of identification enables a poverty measure to draw on information from persons of different ages, genders, and life situations, but loses individual information by summarising it at the level of the household. As a consequence, gendered and intrahousehold inequalities are not illuminated even when data for them exist. However individual indicators or indices lose information regarding the achievements of other household members, and face challenges in finding a structure by which to compare all genders and ages. This paper augments a household multidimensional poverty index (MPI) by applying individual-level analyses to individual indicators in that MPI, and analysing individual deprivations alongside the matrix of deprivations underlying an MPI. Here we focus on individually undernourished and out of school children. Analyses show what proportion of deprived (and poor) children i) live in multidimensionally poor households; ii) are girls vs boys; iii) live in households in which other eligible children are not deprived in that indicator. We also observe iv) what additional deprivations children experience besides the focal deprivation, and v) what proportion of people live in households where children of different ages experience different age-specific deprivations concurrently. Finally using data on completed years of schooling for all adults and children vi) we identify ‘pioneer children’, to illustrate the possibility of combining information on the deprivation or attainment status of more than one household members. This paper provides a prototype methodology that can be incorporated into standard analyses of household poverty measures that include individual indicators in order to shine a light jointly on individual and household poverty. We illustrate each aspect of the methodology with analyses of the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for seven countries in South Asia.

About the speaker:
Rizwan is a Research Associate at OPHI. He is also Assistant Professor of Development Studies at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics where he is Head of the Department of Development Studies. He has more than 18 years of experience in population and development mainly focusing on poverty, ageing and health. He has worked in the United Nations Development Programme in the preparation of National Human Development Report for Pakistan on Youth.

About the discussants:
Cheryl Doss is a development economist whose research focuses on issues related to assets, agriculture and gender with a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Among her research projects, she co-leads the Gender Asset Gap Project, a large-scale effort to collect data and measure individual asset and wealth holdings for men and women in Ecuador, Ghana, and Karnataka, India. This research examines best practices for collecting individual data on assets and also quantifies women’s ownership of and control over productive assets. Currently, much of her work focuses on how to understand both joint and individual ownership and decision-making within rural households. Cheryl Doss works with a range of international organizations on issues including best approaches for collecting sex-disaggregated data, gender and agriculture, intrahousehold resource allocation, and women’s asset ownership. Currently, she is the gender advisor for the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). In recent years, she has also worked with UN Women, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, DFID, the Africa Development Bank, and the UN Foundation on issues of women’s asset ownership. She has published widely in academic journals in economics, agricultural economics, and development studies.

About the Hosts:
James E. Foster is the Oliver T. Carr, Jr. Professor of International Affairs, Professor of Economics, and Co-Director of the Institute for International Economic Policy at the George Washington University. He is also a Research Associate at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative at Oxford University. Professor Foster’s research focuses on welfare economics — using economic tools to evaluate and enhance the wellbeing of people. His work underlies many well-known social indices including the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) published annually by the UNDP in the Human Development Report, dozens of national MPIs used to guide domestic policy against poverty, the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) at USAID, the Gross National Happiness Index of Bhutan, the Better Jobs Index of the InterAmerican Development Bank, and the Statistical Performance Index of the World Bank. Prof. Foster received his PhD in Economics from Cornell University and has a Doctorate Honoris Causa from Universidad Autonoma del Estado Hidalgo (Mexico).

Sabina Alkire directs the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). She is the Associate Professor of Development Studies in the Oxford Department of International Development at the University of Oxford. Her research interests include multidimensional poverty measurement and analysis, welfare economics, the capability approach, the measurement of freedoms and human development. From 2015–16, Sabina was Oliver T Carr Professor of International Affairs and Professor of Economics at George Washington University. Previously, she worked at the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard University, the Human Security Commission, and the World Bank’s Poverty and Culture Learning and Research Initiative. She holds a DPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford.