Multidimensional Poverty Index

Index on multidimensional poverty across health, education, and standard of living

  • Source: UNDP/OPHI

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) compiles the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) as part of its Human Development Report initiative. First published in 2010, the MPI identifies multiple deprivations at the household and individual level in health, education, and standard of living. It uses microdata from household surveys, and—unlike the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index—all the indicators needed to construct the measure must come from the same survey. Each person in a given household is classified as poor or nonpoor depending on the weighted number of deprivations his or her household experiences. These data are then aggregated into the national measure of poverty. The MPI reflects both the prevalence of multidimensional deprivation and its intensity—the percentage of simultaneous deprivations poor people experience. It can be used to create a comprehensive picture of people living in poverty and permits comparisons both across countries, regions, and the world and within countries by ethnic group, urban, or rural location, as well as other key household and community characteristics. The MPI offers a valuable complement to income-based poverty measures. Indicators shown in the MPI include the following: (1) health: nutrition and child mortality; (2) education: years of schooling and children enrolled; and (3) standard of living: cooking fuel, toilet, water, electricity, floor, and assets. The MPI is calculated by multiplying the incidence of poverty by the intensity of poverty. The incidence of poverty is the proportion of people considered to experience multidimensional poverty, in other words, that are considered deprived in at least one-third of the MPI's weighted indicators. The intensity of multidimensional poverty is the weighted average number of deprivations poor people experience at the same time. The main data sources of the MPI are the Macro Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) of the Inner City Fund (ICF) and the Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The 2016 Human Development Report (HDR) presents estimates for 102 developing countries with a combined population of 5.2 billion (72% of the world total). About 1.5 billion people in the countries covered—29% of their entire population—lived in multidimensional poverty between 2005 and 2015. Resource Watch shows only a subset of the data set. For access to the full data set and additional information, see the Learn More link.

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Formal name

Multidimensional Poverty Index

Cautions

The MPI has some drawbacks, due mainly to data constraints. First, the indicators include both outputs (such as years of schooling) and inputs (such as cooking fuel) as well as one stock indicator (child mortality). Second, the health data are relatively weak and overlook some groups’ deprivations, especially for nutrition, though the patterns that emerge are plausible and familiar. Third, in some cases careful judgments were needed to address missing data. But to be considered multidimensionally poor, households must be deprived in at least 6 standard-of-living indicators or in 3 standard-of-living indicators and one health or education indicator. This requirement makes the MPI less sensitive to minor inaccuracies. Fourth, intrahousehold inequalities may be severe, but these could not be reflected. Fifth, while the MPI goes well beyond a headcount to include the intensity of poverty experienced, it does not measure inequality among the poor, although decompositions by groups can be used to reveal group-based inequalities. Finally, the estimates presented here are based on publicly available data and cover various years between 2005 and 2015, which limits direct cross-country comparability.

Suggested citation

Jahan, Selim et al. 2016. "Human Development Report 2016: Human Development for Everyone." United Nations Development Programme. Available at: http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2016_human_development_report.pdf. Accessed through Resource Watch, (date). www.resourcewatch.org.

Sources

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI)

Geographic coverage

102 countries

Spatial resolution

National

Date of content

2005-2015

Frequency of updates

Annual

Published language

en

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