Bristol poverty measurement methods go global
17 December 2014
Researchers at the universities of Bristol and Cardiff have shown how the process of defining and measuring poverty in low-income countries can be made more democratic.
In a paper published this month in the journal Social Indicators Research, the team’s study (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council) demonstrates how methods developed to assess poverty in high-income countries can also be used successfully in low-income countries, where poverty is more deeply entrenched.
The study’s methodology applies the Consensual Approach, a method developed by academics at Bristol as part of the Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK study, to micro-data from a household survey in Benin in West Africa.
The Consensual Approach generates ‘heat maps’ to chart the levels of agreement about what items and social activities people in a community believe to be essential for an adequate standard of living. The Benin data clearly showed such a consensus about which factors should be considered essential, and thus can form the basis of a democratic definition and measure of poverty.
Dr Shailen Nandy, Research Fellow in the Centre for Study of Poverty and Social Justice, said: ‘Our findings show that methods developed in Bristol can be applied effectively to assess poverty anywhere in the world. We plan to develop a short module of questions which can be added to existing household surveys to produce valid, reliable and comparable indicators of poverty for many more countries’.