Policy relevant measurement of poverty in low, middle and high income countries

Shailen Nandy, David Gordon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


Poverty is conceptualised in many ways but is most commonly defined as a lack of command over sufficient resources over time to be able to have the common possessions and participate in the normal activities of the society in which a person lives (Spicker et al, 2007). Conceptualisations of poverty are important and contested because as Townsend argued:
“Any statement of policy to reduce poverty contains an implicit if not explicit explanation of its cause. Any explanation of poverty contains an implicit prescription for policy. Any conceptualisation of poverty contains an implicit explanation of the phenomenon.” (Townsend, 1979: 64)
The chapter shows how the relative deprivation definition of poverty can be operationalized using consensual methods to produce policy relevant and comparable measures of poverty in low, middle and high income countries.
It discusses the theoretical and conceptual background for the use of consensual approaches to measuring poverty, and shows how the views of the population can be included in its definition and measurement. Using household survey micro data from Benin (low-income), Mexico (upper-middle income) and the UK (high-income), we demonstrate how poverty estimates can be made using measures which reflect internationally-agreed definitions of poverty. We also show how, in each of the countries selected, there is a high degree of consensus about the necessaries of life, and that such consensus allows for the identification and establishment of social norms and those individuals/groups unable to meet such norms due to a lack of resources to be identified.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPoverty and Inequality in Middle Income Countries: . Policy Achievements, Political Obstacles
EditorsEinar Braathen, Julian May, Gemma Wright
PublisherCROP, Zed Books
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2015


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