Seminar by Dr. Suman Seth, Oxford University

14 Jul 2014

Speaker: Dr.Suman Seth, Oxford University
Title of the paper: Measuring destitution in developing countries: An ordinal approach for identifying linked subset of multidimensionally poor (jointly with Sabina Alkire, Adriana Conconi )
Venue: Economics Department, Calcutta University, Room 32
Date: 14th July , Monday
Time: 3 p.m.

Overall poverty reduction may leave the poorest behind and thus it is a fair question to ask if the overall poverty reduction has taken place among the poorest of the poor, which requires defining a subset of those that are poor. In income poverty measurement, this is done by setting a more stringent poverty cutoff. This paper, however, pursues a multidimensional counting approach, building on Alkire and Foster (2011), under the practical assumption that many variables for assessing deprivations are ordinal. Unlike in income poverty measurement, there are more than one ways of identifying a subset of the poor, which we explore in this paper and use one of them to identify the ‘destitute’. We then apply the approach to understand the extent of destitution in 49 developing countries across the world using the same set of dimensions and indicators used for constructing the well-known Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which is reported annually in UNDP’s Human Development Reports. Surprisingly, we find widespread destitution across these 49 countries, where half of the 1.2 billion poor people are identified as destitute. We also use certain countries to illustrate how the overall change in poverty over time may be decomposed into changes affecting those that are destitute and those that are not using strictly harmonized variables.

Speaker's Bio
Suman Seth is a Senior Research Officer at Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). He has obtained a PhD in Economics from Vanderbilt University in 2010. He has served as consultants to the Regional Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean, UNDP, the Development Research Groups at the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. His primary interest lies in the area of Development Economics with special emphasis on measurement methodologies and policy-oriented applications of multidimensional welfare and poverty measures.