Measuring poverty and wellbeing in developing countries

This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO licence. It is free to read at Oxford Scholarship Online and offered as a free PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations.

Detailed analyses of poverty and wellbeing in developing countries, based on household surveys, have been ongoing for more than three decades. The large majority of developing countries now regularly conduct a variety of household surveys, and the information base in developing countries with respect to poverty and wellbeing has improved dramatically. Nevertheless, appropriate measurement of poverty remains complex and controversial. This is particularly true in developing countries where (i) the stakes with respect to poverty reduction are high; (ii) the determinants of living standards are often volatile; and (iii) related information bases, while much improved, are often characterized by significant non-sample error. 

It also remains, to a surprisingly high degree, an activity undertaken by technical assistance personnel and consultants based in developed countries. This book seeks to enhance the transparency, replicability, and comparability of existing practice. In so doing, it also aims to significantly lower the barriers to entry to the conduct of rigorous poverty measurement and increase the participation of analysts from developing countries in their own poverty assessments. 

The book focuses on two domains: the measurement of absolute consumption poverty and a first order dominance approach to multidimensional welfare analysis. In each domain, it provides a series of flexible computer codes designed to facilitate analysis by allowing the analyst to start from a flexible and known base. The book volume covers the theoretical grounding for the code streams provided, a chapter on 'estimation in practice', a series of 11 case studies where the code streams are operationalized, as well as a synthesis, an extension to inequality, and a look forward.

PLEASe and EFOD documentation


Table of contents
    1. Measuring poverty and wellbeing in developing countries: motivation and overview
    Channing Arndt and Finn Tarp
  2. 2. Absolute poverty lines
    Channing Arndt, Kristi Mahrt and Finn Tarp
  3. 3. Multidimensional first-order dominance comparisons of population wellbeing
    Channing Arndt, Nikolaj Siersbæk and Lars Peter Østerdal
  4. 4. Estimation in practice
    Channing Arndt and Kristi Mahrt
    5. Estimating utility-consistent poverty in Ethiopia, 2000-11
    David Stifel and Tassew Woldehanna
  6. 6. Estimating utility-consistent poverty in Madagascar, 2001-10
    David Stifel, Tiaray Razafimanantena and Faly Rakotomanana
  7. 7. Methods matter: the sensitivity of Malawian poverty estimates to definitions, data, and assumptions
    Ulrik Beck, Richard Mussa and Karl Pauw
  8. 8. A review of consumption poverty estimation for Mozambique
    Channing Arndt, Sam Jones, Kristi Mahrt, Vincenzo Salvucci and Finn Tarp
  9. 9. Poverty trends in Pakistan
    Hina Nazli, Edward Whitney and Kristi Mahrt
  10. 10. Uganda: a new set of utility-consistent poverty lines
    Bjorn van Campenhout, Haruna Sekabira and Fiona Nattembo
  11. 11. Estimating multidimensional childhood poverty in the Democratic Republic of Congo: 2007-2013
    Kristi Mahrt and Malokele Nanivazo
  12. 12. Child deprivation and income poverty in Ghana
    Raymond Elikplim Kofinti and Samuel Kobina Annim
  13. 13. Spatial and temporal multidimensional poverty in Nigeria
    Olu Ajakaiye, Afeikhena T. Jerome, Olanrewaju Olaniyan, Olufunke A. Alaba and Kristi Mahrt
  14. 14. Multidimensional assessment of child welfare for Tanzania
    Channing Arndt, Vincent Leyaro, Kristi Mahrt and Finn Tarp
  15. 15. Estimating multidimensional poverty in Zambia
    Kristi Mahrt and Gibson Masumbu
    16. Synthesis
    Channing Arndt, Kristi Mahrt and Finn Tarp
  17. 17. Keep it real: measuring real inequality using survey data from developing countries
    Ulrik Beck
  18. 18. Conclusions and looking forward
    Channing Arndt and Finn Tarp
    19. User guide to Poverty Line Estimation Analytical Software-PLEASe
    Channing Arndt, Ulrik Beck, M. Azhar Hussain, Kristi Mahrt, Kenneth Simler and Finn Tarp
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