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Development Contrasts: Multi-dimensional Poverty

A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 1 Jan 2020

Poverty is multi-dimensional – we look at the latest data on severe multi-dimensional poverty for a range of emerging and developing countries in this short revision video.

Development Contrasts: Multi-dimensional Poverty

Understanding and measuring poverty is different for countries because poverty is multi-dimensional. Health, Education and the Standard of living are all dimensions of tracking poverty.

The United Nation’s Multi-dimensional Poverty Index which has been published since 2010 is an attempt to go deeper than the basic Human Development Index to see if progress is being made - against sustainable development standards – to lower the vulnerability of people in emerging and developing countries to severe deprivation.

Here is a selection of data on multi-dimensional poverty for a number of emerging and developing countries.

In Niger where per capita incomes remain below $1,000 a year, nearly three quarters of the population are found to be in severe multi-dimensional poverty. Just under half of the population live under $1.90 a day (PPP adjusted) and the country comes bottom of international rankings for the HDI. In fast-growing Ethiopia, per capita incomes are twice as high and extreme poverty is much lower but still around two thirds of the population are in severe multi-dimensional poverty.

Severe multi-dimensional poverty falls as per capita incomes rise but it is not a linear improvement. Rwanda for example has a significantly lower per capita income than Angola but less than a quarter of the population are in severe multi-dimensional poverty compared to around a third for Angola. Cambodia outperforms Bangladesh using this measure despite having a per capita income that is $500 lower.

India has managed to lower the scale of severe multi-dimensional poverty to below 10 per cent of the population although many millions remain vulnerable to this situation.

Vietnam has a lower per capita income than India, yet their severe multi-dimensional poverty rate is less than one per cent of the population and only two percent of inhabitants live on less than $1.90 a day. Vietnam’s relative success in providing widely available basic health care and other infrastructure such as core sanitation facilities helps explain this difference. The state has a crucial role to play in providing the public goods at scale necessary to reduce multi-dimensional poverty.

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