Moderate internationally comparable MPI

This seminar is organised jointly with the Institute for International Economic Policy at George Washington University and the UNDP Human Development Report Office.
This seminar will be held online, to register visit:

About the paper:
Many of the current poverty measures used to track progress towards the Agenda 2030 fall short of its ambition to “end poverty in all its forms, everywhere”. This talk introduces a new measure of “moderate multidimensional poverty” that complements the current measures of acute poverty, in line with the ambitions outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The new trial index, here called Moderate MPI (MMPI), builds on the basic capabilities included in the global Multidimensional Poverty Index but adjusts the indicators to reflect a meaningful change in the level of ambition anchored in the SDGs. MMPI is intended to provide a complementary measure of poverty globally, but will be most meaningful for middle-income countries and regions where acute poverty is already low and possibly no longer reflects a valid level of ambition for national development.
The main value-added of the new trial MMPI is that it: i) is globally comparable across countries at all income levels, ii) aligns the indicators with the higher standards for development as defined in the Agenda 2030, and iii) allows us to study some aspects of intrahousehold deprivation. The trial MMPI is illustrated empirically using nationally representative household surveys from Thailand, Iraq, Tanzania, Serbia, Guatemala, and Bangladesh. While data constrains remain, the results demonstrate that the MMPI is feasible, has desirable properties as a global poverty index, and allows to unearth thus far hidden aspects in poverty measurement, such as intrahousehold deprivations in education. The talk will conclude by discussing the steps needed towards a wider policy relevant use of the index that would support the global development community to find sustainable pathways out of poverty.

About the Presenter:
Elina Scheja is currently working as a Lead Economist at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), where her tasks include economic analysis, multidimensional poverty analytics, and advisory support. Her professional interest focus on evidence of what works for poverty reduction, how poverty can be measured in multiple dimensions, and how to promote sustainable and inclusive economic development that benefit people living in poverty. Prior to her current position, Ms Scheja was based in Rwanda managing Sida’s project portfolio for productive employment, analysing economic development, and engaging in dialogue with partners for sustainable poverty reduction. Ms Scheja has long experience in development cooperation in different roles and organisations, such as the World Bank where she worked with inclusive growth, development effectiveness, and migration. Ms Scheja holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex, Masters in Economics from Helsinki School of Economics, and Masters in Development Studies from Helsinki University, and has research experience from several universities and research institutions.

About the discussants:
Iván González de Alba : Country Economist at UNDP’s Country Office in Cambodia. Until August 2020, he was the Regional Policy Advisor in Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development at UNDP’s Regional Hub for Latin America and the Caribbean. Economist and holds a Masters in Public Policy from ITAM (Mexico) as well as a Masters in Economics and a DPhil in Development Studies from the University of Oxford, England. Former OPHI collaborator, also worked for the Mexican government holding different positions at the ministries of tourism, social development and urban development. Social protection in Africa and the regional study on environmental variables into MPIs are among his most recent publications.

Khalid Abu-Ismail: Senior Economist at UN-ESCWA, ERF Policy Affiliate and formerly UNDP Policy Adviser and Faculty Member of the Economics Department of the Lebanese American University. Over 50 research papers and UN publications with a focus on poverty, inequality and human development in Arab countries, including: “Arab Vision 2030 Report” (ESCWA, 2015), “Arab Middle Class” (ESCWA, 2014), “Rethinking Economic Growth” (ILO and UNDP, 2012), “Arab Multi-Dimensional Poverty Report” (LAS, OPHI, UNICEF and ESCWA, 2017), “Rethinking Inequality in Arab Countries” (ESCWA and ERF, 2019) and lead author of the forthcoming ESCWA report on “Rethinking Human Development”. D. Phil. in Development Economics from the New School for Social Research in New York.

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.