Multidimensional Poverty and Material Deprivation with Discrete Data

  • Walter BossertEmail author
  • Satya R. Chakravarty
  • Conchita D’Ambrosio
Part of the Themes in Economics book series (THIE)


We propose a characterization of a popular index of multidimensional poverty which, as a special case, generates a measure of material deprivation. This index is the weighted sum of the functioning failures. The important feature of the variables that may be relevant for poverty assessments is that they are discrete in nature. Thus, poverty measures based on continuous variables are not suitable in this setting and the assumption of a discrete domain is mandatory. We apply the measure to European Union member states where the concept of material deprivation was initiated and illustrate how its recommendations differ from those obtained from poverty measures based exclusively on income considerations.


Counting approach Material deprivation Multidimensional poverty measurement 

JEL Code




We thank two referees for useful suggestions as well as the Fondazione Debenedetti for providing access to the dataset. Financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada is gratefully acknowledged.


  1. Aaberge, R., & Peluso, E. (2011). A counting approach for measuring multidimensional deprivation. Università di Verona, Dipartimento di Economia, WP No. 7.Google Scholar
  2. Alkire, S., & Foster, J. E. (2011). Counting and multidimensional poverty measurement. Journal of Public Economics, 95, 476–87.Google Scholar
  3. Atkinson, A. B. (2003). Multidimensional deprivation: Contrasting social welfare and counting approaches. Journal of Economic Inequality, 1, 51–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bourguignon, F., & Chakravarty, S. R. (2003). The measurement of multidimensional poverty. Journal of Economic Inequality, 1, 25–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chakravarty, S. R., & D’Ambrosio, C. (2006). The measurement of social exclusion. Review of Income and Wealth, 52, 377–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chakravarty, S. R., Mukherjee, D., & Ranade, R. (1998). On the family of subgroup and factor decomposable measures of multidimensional poverty. Research on Economic Inequality, 8, 175–194.Google Scholar
  7. Decancq, K., & Lugo, M. A. (2012). Weights in multidimensional indices of well-being: An overview. Econometric Reviews, 32, 7–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Diez, H., Lasso de la Vega, M. C., & Urrutia, A. M. (2008). Multidimensional unit and subgroup consistent inequality and poverty measures: Some characterization results. Research on Economic Inequality, 16, 189–211.Google Scholar
  9. Fahey, T. (2007). The case for an EU-wide measure of poverty. European Sociological Review, 23, 35–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Foster, J. E. (2007). Report on multidimensional poverty measurement. Mexico City: El Colegio de Mexico.Google Scholar
  11. Gordon, G., Nandy, S., Pantazis, C., Pemberton, S., & Townsend, P. (2003). Child poverty in the developing world. Bristol: The Policy Press.Google Scholar
  12. Guio, A.-C. (2005). Material deprivation in the EU. Statistics in focus, population and social conditions, living conditions and welfare, 21/2005, Eurostat, Luxembourg.Google Scholar
  13. Guio, A.-C., Fusco, A., Marlier, E. (2009). An EU approach to material deprivation using EU-SILC and eurobarometer data. IRISS Working Paper 2009–19.Google Scholar
  14. Jayaraj, D., & Subramanian, S. (2010). A Chakravarty–D’Ambrosio view of multidimensional deprivation: Some estimates for India. Economic and Political Weekly, 45, 53–65.Google Scholar
  15. Kraft, C. H., Pratt, J. W., & Seidenberg, A. (1959). Intuitive probability on finite sets. Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 30, 408–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lasso de la Vega, M. C. (2010). Counting poverty orderings and deprivation curves. Research on Economic Inequality, 18, 153–72.Google Scholar
  17. Mack, J., & Lindsay, S. (1985). Poor Britain. London: George Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  18. Ravallion, M. (2011). The human development index: A comment on Klugman, Rodriguez and Choi. Journal of Economic Inequality, 9, 475–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ravallion, M. (2012). Troubling tradeoffs in the human development index. Journal of Development Economics, 99, 201–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ringen, S. (1988). Direct and indirect measures of poverty. Journal of Social Policy, 17, 351–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sen, A. (1976). Poverty: An ordinal approach to measurement. Econometrica, 44, 219–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Sen, A. (1992). Inequality re-examined. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Stiglitz, J. E., Sen, A., & Fitoussi, J.-P. (2009). Report by the commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress. Paris: CMEPSP.Google Scholar
  24. Streeten, P. (1981). First things first: Meeting basic human needs in developing countries. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. TNS Opinion &Social. (2007). Poverty and exclusion. Report on the Special Eurobarometer No.279/Wave 67.1. Available at:
  26. Townsend, P. (1979). Poverty in the United Kingdom. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  27. Tsui, K.-Y. (2002). Multidimensional poverty indices. Social Choice and Welfare, 19, 69–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Whelan, C. T., & Maître, B. (2009). Europeanization of inequality and European reference groups. Journal of European Social Policy, 19, 117–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Whelan, C. T., Nolan, B., Maître, B. (2008). Measuring material deprivation in the enlarged EU. ESRI Working Paper No. 249.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walter Bossert
    • 1
    Email author
  • Satya R. Chakravarty
    • 2
  • Conchita D’Ambrosio
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of MontrealMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Indian Statistical InstituteKolkataIndia
  3. 3.Maison des Sciences HumainesUniversité du LuxembourgEsch-sur-AlzetteLuxembourg

Personalised recommendations