More data on non-income dimensions of poverty are available than at any previous time in history. Alongside this, multidimensional measurement methodologies have advanced considerably in the past fifteen years. These advances together have created new possibilities to measure multidimensional poverty at the local, national and international level. Yet the fact that overall measures can be constructed does not mean that they will necessarily add value. This paper focuses on the question of when, how and why certain multidimensional poverty measures add value, sketches the limits of the contribution, and introduces a set of standing questions. The key value-added of a rigorously implemented multidimensional poverty index is that it conveys additional information not captured in single-dimensional measures (or in a dashboard) on the joint distribution of disadvantage and the composition of poverty. It also provides a consistent account of the overall change in multidimensional poverty across time and space.
Alkire, S. Multidimensional Poverty and its Discontents. Presented at 8th Conference Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and European Development Research Network (EUDN). (2010) 28 pp.