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Multidimensional Poverty


Multidimensional measures of poverty offer the opportunity to construct a comprehensive portrayal of poverty, going beyond income and consumption. They unveil the deprivations experienced by the poor in various dimensions of human well-being, providing important insights into the breadth of challenges they face.

Historically, poverty has been defined based on a person’s income and ability to satisfy basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter. However, poverty is not only about the lack of money. Hence the importance of measuring and addressing poverty in its various dimensions, in line with SDG 1.2.

Multidimensional poverty can be measured at both global and national levels, using the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The global MPI, developed in 2010 by the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), utilizes ten indicators related to health, education and living standards and allows for comparisons between countries and regions. 

A growing number of countries have also developed their own national MPI, by incorporating a broader range of indicators tailored to their national contexts and priorities.

For details regarding the design of a MPI, see UNDP-OPHI Handbook "How to build a Multidimensional Poverty Index"

Key definitions

Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)

Multidimensional Poverty combines measures that track poor health, lack of education, and inadequate living standards to capture the different dimensions of deprivation in order to provide a comprehensive assessment of poverty. It takes into account both the breadth (incidence) and depth (intensity) of poverty among individuals in a population and is calculated as the product of the two.

Incidence of poverty

The incidence of poverty (or headcount ratio) measures the percentage of individuals in a population who are considered multidimensionally poor, indicating the proportion of people experiencing poverty across multiple dimensions.

Intensity of poverty

The intensity of poverty is the average proportion of weighted indicators in which multidimensionally poor individuals are deprived. It provides insights into the extent or severity of deprivation experienced by those classified as multidimensionally poor.


Publications related to National and Global MPI

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