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Number of Downlaods: 36

Published Date: Oct 15, 1998

Poverty:Concept and Measurement (R-12)

Mozaffar Qizilbash, SDPI


This paper argues that poverty is best thought of in terms of low well-being, and a lack of basic prudential values. It argues against relativist views, as well as income and capability based views, of poverty. The conceptual account of poverty is brought to bear on the problem of measuring poverty. It is argued that in making international comparisons of poverty we should restrict ourselves to ordinal information and that orderings must be sensitive to the plurality of weights people apply to different values. International poverty rankings based on ordinal information are then constructed and compared to the UNDP’s human poverty index ranking. It turns out that rankings based on ordinal information – dominance, Borda and intersection Borda rankings – provide judgements which are quite different from those generated by the UNDP’s human poverty index.

Keywords: poverty, well-being, needs, capability, Borda ranking.

JEL Classification Nos: I131 and I132.

Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Development Studies Association at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, 11-13 September 1997.