Working Paper
Social Groups and Economic Poverty

A Problem in Measurement

This paper points to some elementary conflicts between the claims of interpersonal and intergroup justice as they manifest themselves in the process of seeking a real-valued index of poverty which is required to satisfy certain seemingly desirable properties. It indicates how ‘group-sensitive’ poverty measures, similar to the Anand-Sen (1995) ‘Gender Adjusted Human Development Index’ and the Subramanian-Majumdar (2002) ‘Group-Disparity Adjusted Deprivation Index’, may be constructed. Some properties of a specific ‘group-sensitive’ poverty index are appraised, and the advantage of having a ‘flexible’ measure which is capable of effecting a tradeoff between the claims of interpersonal and inter-group equality is spelt out. The implications of directly incorporating group disparities into the measurement of poverty for poverty comparisons and anti-poverty policy are also discussed.