Eradicating Extreme Poverty – But How do we Measure it?

This post by Emma Samman of the ODI,  profiles the ODI’s Development Progress Debate on how to measure poverty within the post-2015 framework and is part of the Wikiprogress post-2015 Series.

ODI’s Development Progress project has just kicked off a debate over how a post-2015 framework ought to measure poverty AND you are invited to join the discussion  – with a blog by Martin Ravallion arguing that a new poverty target should continue to be based on a $1.25 a day poverty line alongside a ‘weakly relative’ poverty line, so that absolute poverty is given primacy but relative poverty is also taken into account.
Further contributions will argue for:
  • higher international poverty lines (Lant Pritchett),
  • a focus on internationally coordinated national poverty lines (Stephan Klasen),
  • a poverty measure that includes both the headcount and depth of multidimensional deprivation (Sabina Alkire), and
  • a focus on relative poverty that distinguishes across different types of poor people (Amanda Lenhardt and Andrew Shepherd).

Blogs will be uploaded every few days throughout May, so watch the site!
Despite a great deal of debate over what a post-2015 framework should encompass, there is a general consensus that ‘eradicating extreme poverty’ should continue to be a fundamental tenet. Less agreement prevails over how this ought to be measured. The MDG target sought to halve extreme poverty over 25 years and defined the poor as those living on $1 a day or less (later updated to $1.25) in international dollars adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).  The $1.25 measure is the average poverty line among the world’s fifteen poorest countries, and the PPP adjustment is designed to enable comparison of purchasing power across countries and over time. One dollar (PPP) in Madagascar should, in principle, have the same value as one dollar in Indonesia.
But it is not clear that this is the best way to think about and measure poverty. Some have advocated higher international income poverty lines, arguing that they hold greater meaning in rich and poor countries alike. Others have argued that PPP measures may not reflect national incomes well and that national poverty lines would offer a better solution. Others still have taken issue with an income-based poverty metric and argued that poverty should be measured in a multidimensional fashion. And it has been reasoned that measures ought to disaggregate across groups of the poor in the view that not all experience poverty equally. 
Make sure your voice is heard, join the debate, either by proposing a blog advocating a particular measure or by commenting on the proposals being advanced.
Please direct your contributions to Development Progress Communications Officer, Katy Harris, at