Households change composition frequently through births, deaths, divorces, marriages, the departure of children from home, and other compositional changes. Consequently, a large number of people undergo some fundamental change in household arrangement during relatively short periods of time. However, using data from Indonesia, this study finds that household composition change is not a major cause of chronic poverty. Similarly, it finds no evidence that households change their composition to cope with negative shocks. Nevertheless, it confirms that the larger the number of household members, the higher the probability of a household being chronically poor. Comparing between different types of households, single female without children households have the lowest probability of being either chronically poor or vulnerable, while single male with or without children households have the highest probability of being vulnerable. The frequent changes in household composition imply that the use of the household as the unit of analysis for poverty may undermine, or at least complicate, the conceptualisation and measurement of chronic poverty. This also implies that the problem of targeting social protection programmes is not only implementational in nature, but also has some conceptual roots.
CPRC Working Paper No. 132, Chronic Poverty Research Centre, London, UK, ISBN: 978-1-906433-33-8, 27 pp.