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Measuring Poverty

There are many different definitions and concepts of well-being. This site focuses on three aspects of well-being: poverty, defined as whether households or individuals have enough resources or abilities today to meet their needs; inequality in the distribution of income, consumption or other attributes across the population; and vulnerability, defined here as the probability or risk today of being in poverty – or falling deeper into poverty -- in the future. It then briefly presents some of the issues which arise when measuring poverty, including issues of comparability between surveys, before turning to the types of measurement which can be undertaken for various types of data sources.

In the left navigation menu, you will find information on:

    • Defining welfare measures
    • Choosing and estimating poverty lines
    • Choosing and estimating poverty indicators

Although the concepts, measures and analytical tools can be applied to numerous dimensions of well-being – such as income, consumption, health, education and assets ownership - the site mainly focuses on the income and consumption dimension and only casually refers to the other dimensions

This page is based on Coudouel et al. (2002), Poverty Measurement and Analysis, in the PRSP Sourcebook, World Bank, Washington D.C.

Related Sections:

  • See Analyzing Poverty to review the tools and techniques available to analyze poverty and to learn about drawing a poverty profile and analyzing the determinants of poverty.
  • See Poverty Mapping to learn about the types of maps, their uses, and the techniques available for their elaboration
  • See  Data and Tools for a guide to the types of data sources which can be used to measure and analyze poverty, and for access to household surveys.  
  • See Training Events & Materials for useful resources from training activities on poverty measurement.
  • See Key Readings for references to more resources on poverty measurement

For information on measurement, explore the site on Achieving Shared Growth.
For information on the measurement of vulnerability, explore the site on Social Risk Management.

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