Human Poverty Index

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About the Human Poverty Index

The Human Poverty Index (HPI) was first introduced into the Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1997 in an attempt to bring together in a composite index the different features of deprivation in the quality of life to arrive at an aggregate judgement on the extent of poverty in a community.

That is, if human development is seen as enlarging choices and expanding freedoms to enjoy a decent standard of living, freedom, dignity, self-respect and the respect of others, then measures of poverty should look at the deprivation of these freedoms.
Therefore the HPI looks at deprivations in the three basic dimensions captured in the Human Development Index: a long and healthy life, as measured by the probability of not surviving past the age of 40; knowledge, or exclusion from it, as measured by the adult literacy rate; and a decent standard of living, or lack of essential services, as measured by the percentage of the population not using an improved water source and the percentage of children underweight for their age.


There are tree indicators of the human poverty index (HPI): [1]

Survival: the likeliness of death at a relatively early age and is represented by the probability of not surviving to ages 40 and 60 respectively for the HPI-1 and HPI-2.

Knowledge: being excluded from the world of reading and communication and is measured by the percentage of adults who are illiterate.

Decent standard of living: In particular, overall economic provisioning.

How to calculate HPI

For developing countries: 


For high-income OECD countries:




  1. Information taken from the HPI Website


See Also


Progress Papers and Publications

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