and Duration of Poverty

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Nov 16, 2013 (3 years and 7 months ago)

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Towards A Unified Framework for
Understanding the Depth, Breadth
and Duration of Poverty

By David Hulme and David Clark


ESRC Global Poverty Research Group (GPRG) and

Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM),
University of Manchester, UK.

David_A_Clark@hotmail.com
,
David.Hulme@manchester.ac.uk



http://www.gprg.org/

The Meta
-
Dimensions of Poverty

Deprivation can be characterised in term of three
overarching ‘meta
-
dimensions’ of poverty:


Depth



(a) headcount (how many), (b) income gap
(how far below poverty line), and (c) attempts to
combine these with measures of inequality below the
poverty line (e.g. Sen poverty measure)


Breadth



multidimensionality of poverty (since the late
1960s our understanding of poverty has gradually
broadened): emphasis on employment and
redistribution with growth, BNA, CA, Human
Development paradigm, Sen’s critique of HDI.


Duration



we focus on a linear conception of time,
which measures time mechanically with reference to
intervals.

Time and Poverty

Until the late 1980s the main ways in which
time was incorporated into poverty analysis
were in terms of:

1.
Poverty trends
(contrasts headcounts at different
points in time);

2.
Seasonality
(emphasis on consumption and food
availability);

3.
Timing of experiences

(over lifecourse with
particular focus on nutrition, health and ‘irreversible
effects’);

4.
Historical accounts of poverty

(e.g. Iliffe’s
distinction between ‘
structural’ and ‘conjunctural’
poverty in Africa).

Time
matters
, but is often neglected

Time matters for four main reasons:

1.
If
X

has experienced the same deprivations as
Y
, but for
much longer, it is logical to regard
X

as ‘worse off’ than
Y
;

2.
Failure to analyse the dynamics of poverty leads to weak
explanations of why people are poor;

3.
Recent work highlights the linkages between the depth of
poverty in terms of material and social assets and duration
with a focus on household level poverty traps (e.g. Carter
and Barrett)


therefore a conceptualisation of poverty is
needed that permits analyses of the ways in which
duration leads to depleted asset levels;

4.
The duration of time spent in poverty influences
household’s future strategies (in term of physical and
cognitive capabilities, agency of people).

Cont/….

Five reasons why duration has often been neglected:

1.
General difficulties in terms of making quantitative analysis
longitudinal (e.g. sample attrition);

2.
Practical difficulties in terms of having to ‘wait’ to repeat
data collection (also raises costs, limits number of waves in
panels, exacerbates interview fatigue, etc);

3.
Ethical problems of revisiting people in hardship without
being part of some local initiative to address that hardship
(most research projects focus on global, regional or national
rather than local policy issues);

4.
Political and moral pressure to conduct research that
produces answers and solutions today, instead of waiting
for the results of further rounds of interviews;

5.
The contextual problem that most poverty occurs in low
-
income countries with poor quality official longitudinal data.

Cont/….


Since the late 1980s there has been growing
interest in examining the duration of poverty


notably studies of chronic/ transitory poverty,
poverty dynamics and patterns of poverty spells.


See for example the work of the Chronic Poverty
Research Centre (
http://www.chronicpoverty.org
)
and BASIS (
http://www.basis.wisc.edu
)


But these studies have only tentatively linked up
with the work on multi
-
dimensionality

Incorporating Depth, Breadth
and Duration

We need a framework that can

1.
incorporate depth, breadth and duration;
AND

2.
deal with the fact that there are many
different plausible ways of defining poverty

One way of doing this is to extend Mozaffar
Qizilbash’s poverty and vagueness framework to
incorporate time.

Qizilbash’s Original Framework

Qizilbash distinguishes between:


Horizontal Vagueness
,

i.e. vagueness or imprecision about the
admissible dimensions of poverty; and


Vertical Vagueness
,

i.e. vagueness about the critical minimal
level in a particular dimension at or below which someone must
fall to classify as poor in that dimension;

Qizilbash’s framework involves working with a set of
admissible dimensions (and corresponding critical minimal
thresholds), which allow us to distinguish between three
different groups of people:


The Core Poor
,

i.e. those who are definitely or unambiguously
poor given the many dimensions and thresholds of poverty;


The Vulnerable
,

i.e. those who are very close to being definitely
poor in a particular dimension; and


The Non
-
Poor
,

i.e. those who are definitely not poor given the
many different specifications of poverty

Figure 1: A Diagrammatic Representation of
Core Poverty, Vulnerability and Being Non
-
Poor

D
1

D
2

(Core) D
3

(Core) D
4

D
5

Vertical

Vagueness

Horizontal Vagueness

M
1H

M
1L

M
2H

M
2L

M
3H

M
3L

M
4H

M
4L

M
5H

M
5L

Cont/…


This framework has been made
operational through fieldwork (a survey on
The Essentials of Life
) in South Africa,
designed to identify admissible dimensions
of poverty, admissible core dimension of
poverty and critical minimal levels.

Extending the Framework to Incorporate
Duration and Time

This involves:

1. Working with a third layer of vagueness,
temporal
vagueness



So for each dimension and threshold, there will be a range of
admissible time periods that can plausibly be used to specify the
notion of poverty.


To classify as definitely (unambiguously) poor a person must now
fall at or below the lowest admissible threshold on a core dimension
for all (the longest) admissible period of time associated with that
dimension

2.
Introducing concepts and categories from the
chronic
poverty approach.


So we can distinguish between the
chronically poor

(i.e. persistently
poor), the
transitory poor

(sometimes poor) and the
never poor
.

Cont/…

The original categories (e.g. core poor, chronically
poor) aren’t modified, but the proposed approach
does allow us to distinguish between new categories
(see Table 2 in our paper):


Chronically Core Poor



those who are
persistently

poor in at
least one core dimension.


Transitory Core Poor



those who are
sometimes

poor in at
least one core dimension.


Chronically Vulnerable



those who are
persistently

close to
definite poverty (between the highest and lowest admissible
thresholds) in a given dimension


Transitory Vulnerable



those who are
sometimes

vulnerable
(between the highest and lowest admissible thresholds) to
poverty in a given dimension.


Never poor



those who are secure and not poor.

Policy Insights

The extended framework combines and enriches the policy
insights of Qizilbash’s vagueness framework and the
chronic poverty approach:


Following Qizilbash we can distinguish between core
poverty prevention (measures that prevent the
vulnerable falling into poverty) and core poverty
eradication (measures that eliminate poverty in specific
dimensions)


Following the chronic poverty approach, we can
distinguish between the ‘chronically poor’, ‘transitory
poor’ and ‘never poor’ and analyse the factors that allow
people to move between these groups


In combining the frameworks, we might ask why some
groups are chronically core poor, while others are
transitory core poor or transitory vulnerable, inter alia.

Another way of extending the framework

Involves treating ‘chronic’ as a vague predicate (Qizilbash,
2005).

Core poor = unambiguously poor (so a person can be
definitely

poor at a point in time)

In our version of the extended framework

Core poor ≠ unambiguously poor (to be definitely poor a
person must be core poor for a sustained period of time)

The two frameworks lead to the discovery of the same conceptual
categories (e.g. chronically core poor), but by different routes. It has
been suggested that Qizilbash’s framework is more consistent with
the basic capability approach. Concerns have also been raised
about the possibility that those who are core poor (seriously
deprived) for relatively short periods might be classified as
not

definitely poor in our version of the extended framework.

More work is required!

Summary and Conclusions


Time, and in particular duration, matters for conceptualising,
measuring and analysing poverty. However, it has been
neglected until relatively recently.


The meta
-
dimensions of poverty


depth, breadth and duration


can be incorporated in a unified framework by extending
Qizilbash’s vagueness methodology and drawing on the Chronic
Poverty Approach.


Qizilbash’s approach neglects time, but allows for
multidimensionality and recognises that poverty is a vague
predicate. This allows us to study different forms of poverty, say
something concrete about inter
-
sectoral policies (e.g. in the
spheres of health, housing, etc) and distinguish between poverty
prevention and poverty eradication.


The Chronic Poverty Approach takes time seriously and analyses
the dynamics of poverty, but focuses on a single dimension
(typically income or consumption) and does not make a sharp
distinction between poverty and vulnerability.


Arguable a more holistic approach that combines these
frameworks will deepen our understanding of poverty and
sharpen policy analysis.

Further Reading

Clark, D. A. and Qizilbash M. (2002), ‘Core Poverty and Extreme Vulnerability in
South Africa’,
Discussion Paper No. 2002
-
3
, School of Economics, University of
East Anglia, UK. Revised version:
http://www.geocities.com/poverty_in_southafrica



CPRC

(
2004
),

The

Chronic

Poverty

Report

2004
/
05
,

Chronic

Poverty

Research

Centre

(CPRC),

University

of

Manchester,

UK
.

http
:
//www
.
chronicpoverty
.
org/



Hulme D. and Shepherd, A. (2003a), ‘Conceptualizing Chronic Poverty’,
World
Development
, 31(3), pp.403
-
424.


Qizilbash, M. (2003), ‘Vague Language and Precise Measurement: the Case of
Poverty’,
Journal of Economic Methodology
, 10(1), pp.41
-
58.


Web Sites:

http://www.chronicpoverty.org


http://www.geocites.com/poverty_in_southafrica