Data for poverty measurement

Posted by on September 7, 2023  /  0 Comments

Poverty alleviation is the first of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. However, the three decades of progress in poverty alleviation hit the COVID-19 pandemic wall (World Bank, 2022). This was further exacerbated by longstanding macroeconomic mismanagement in countries such as Sri Lanka. Counting the poor is the first step in poverty alleviation (The Economist, 2023).
Deaton (2016), for example, notes that recording details of how people live, their consumption patterns, and their expenditure has long served as a tool, sometimes a political one, that aimed to bring the living conditions of the impoverished to the attention of those in authority, to evoke shock, and to advocate for reform. However, defining and measuring poverty is a complex and multifaceted task that requires careful examination of various indicators and methodologies. A clear definition of poverty is crucial as that it guides the determination of indicators for it, which leads to identifying individuals suffering from it, and eventually helps formulate effective policies to alleviate the same (Laderchi et al.,2003).

This paper first draws on the literature to discuss various conceptualizations of poverty and their relative merits. This step is intended to guide policy practitioners on which types of poverty they are trying to alleviate through various social protection programmes. It then provides several examples of types of data sources can be drawn on for poverty measurement – this includes relatively new sources such as call detail records and geospatial data, which have not been addressed in previous discussions on data sources. Thereafter it discusses the suitability of the different data sources for measuring types of poverty, and different considerations for policymakers and policymakers when picking the suitable data source.

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