Does measuring poverty multidimensionally make a difference in terms of who we identify as being poor? In recent years, a growing number of analysts have called for poverty measurement to go beyond a focus on income alone, to consider a wider range of deprivations a person may experience. The thinking behind such calls is typically that there are many ways that a person’s life can be impoverished, and that these need to be captured in poverty assessments.
The analysis shows that there are novel findings that flow from a multidimensional analysis that cannot be obtained from focusing on measures of material poverty alone. But, distinctiveness is not an all-or-nothing affair. The “value added” of multidimensional analysis depends on whether we analyse aggregate or disaggregated dimensions, and whether we seek to identify vulnerable individuals or vulnerable groups. These are different, but important, tasks for public policy.