Project Overview
UN Steering Committee on Poverty Statistics
  Activities and Meetings
  Outline of the Handbook as of October 2003
  Outline of the Handbook as of July 2004
Instructions on the Format of Manuscripts

15 March 2005

Handbook on Poverty Statistics:
Concepts, Methods and Policy Use

Annotated Outline of the Handbook

(Revision of July 2004)


Chapter 1. Preface and introduction (10 pages)

Chapter 2. Overview of concepts and fundamentals of poverty measurements (30 pages)

Chapter 3. Practices of poverty measurements (30 pages)

Chapter 4. Statistical tools and estimation methods for poverty measures based on household surveys (40 pages)

Chapter 5. Statistical issues in measuring poverty from non-survey sources (40 pages)

Chapter 6. Poverty analysis for national policy use: poverty profiles, mapping and dynamics (30 pages)

Chapter 7. Conclusions and recommendations (10 pages)

Addendum. Some comparative poverty statistics


Annotated Outline

Chapter 1. Preface and introduction (10 pages)

To set the scope of the publication, what it includes and what it does not include;

To explain what types of poverty statistics are needed for what purpose (i.e. why/when different poverty measures are important and relevant for specific policy purposes);

To make clear the distinction between national and global poverty estimates and to address the role of inter-country comparisons and regional and global totals in description, causal inference and policy-making at both the national and the global level;

To specify the target users of the publication (e.g. statisticians and data producers, policy makers at national and international levels);

Chapter 2. Overview of concepts and fundamentals of poverty measurements (30 pages)

To highlight the conceptual debates surrounding: concepts of poverty - dimensions of well being - absolute vs. relative poverty; approaches to measurement - based on monetary indicators vs. social and other non-monetary indicators (also referred as: access to basic needs, services and basic capital formation); objective and subjective experience of poverty - methods for integrating and reconciling subjective and objective indicators; poverty lines such as food poverty lines, national, regional, international poverty lines; poverty indices and units - head counts, poverty gap; poverty comparisons - based on stochastic dominance; the case for a "system" of poverty monitoring comprising point estimates and distributional measures, snapshots and time series estimates, within and across country comparisons;

To provide references for an in-depth study of these topics

Chapter 3. Practices of poverty measurements (30 pages)

To review past and present practices of poverty measurement, highlighting the progressive broadening of the definition and measurement of poverty - from command over income to other dimensions of well being (e.g. longevity, education, health) and more recently, to risk, vulnerability, powerlessness and lack of voice; to pay attention to the rapid changing international and global context and its effect on poverty measurement. (10 pages)

Based in part on the experiences accumulated by the Rio Group and four regional workshops organized in connection with the project: to discuss the data availability and quality of existing poverty statistics (e.g. at national and sub-national and global levels, disaggregated by gender); to review country practices including methodologies/concepts, data collection tools, the regularity and disaggregation of the estimates; to understand the difficulties/barriers (institutional/technical/financial) countries face and what is needed to respond to the growing demand for adequate and timely data to guide the design of policies aimed at reducing poverty and for monitoring purpose. Attention will be given to the interplay between national and international stakeholders in providing poverty data for HDR, PRSP, CCA and the MDGR. (20 pages)

Chapter 4. Statistical tools and estimation methods for poverty measures based on household surveys (40 pages)

To discuss the surveys - income and expenditure surveys, LSMS, time-use surveys, DHS, labour surveys, appraisal surveys - as sources of data for poverty assessments based on monetary as well as non-monetary approaches;

To highlight the practical difficulties involved in generating reliable and comparable estimates - definition of terms, sampling, periodicity, frequency, regional differences and other sources of non-random error, costliness and other constraints; to offer options to address specific survey design issues that could potentially affect the interpretation of - or bias- poverty estimates and changes in the estimates - income or consumption; the use of a reference person rather than a "household head" as unit of measurement; imputations and value of non-market services;

To pay due consideration to survey techniques relevant for assessing the well-being of specific target groups - the poorest, earnings from informal enterprise, itinerant and refugees populations, social minorities - and for collecting information of non-economic components of well-being - to consider characteristics having different unit of analysis - individual, household, community, regional and national;

To address specific statistical and data issues in longitudinal analyses - attrition of the sample over time; high mobility among specific groups - and to describe how measurement errors can particularly bias analyses of transience and vulnerability, and to provide guidance for the analysis and interpretation of the data;

To address the need for developing gender-specific data collection instruments to enable poverty analysis from a gender perspective.

Chapter 5. Statistical issues in measuring poverty from non-survey sources (40 pages)

To review other sources of data for poverty assessments: National accounts, population censuses, public sector financial data, administrative records from line ministries and qualitative data from participatory techniques;

To address the current debate on the (mis) use of national accounts for poverty measures and to discuss alternatives for reconciling the survey and national accounts estimate of household consumption through a harmonized approach to household survey and national accounts;

To explore whether the development of common statistical protocols a fruitful strategy with which to enhance the quality and comparability of both national and internationally comparable poverty estimates?

Chapter 6. Poverty analysis for national policy use: poverty profiles, mapping and dynamics (30 pages)

(Analytical techniques presented throughout this chapter will be illustrated by data examples from country cases such as to provide clear and practical guidance to the reader.)

To answer questions such as - what are the characteristics of poor households, who are poor and how to target them, how long does it take them to exit poverty, is poverty transient or persistent; to provide guidance for the analysis of the pattern and change in poverty - address issues related to per capita measures such as, adult equivalence and scale economies; to stress the importance of price indices - regional prices and "poverty-focused" CPI, in particular, of having relevant, viz. operationally significant measures of changes in the "cost of living" to parallel assessments of poverty levels; to pay more attention to the wider longitudinal/panel aspect of poverty profiling - lifetime income streams, position of children, the sick and the aged, adequacy of savings, gender;

To address the need for gender perspective in poverty analysis;

To discuss the use of combined data sources for poverty assessments - merging household surveys and population censuses to construct poverty maps.

Chapter 7. Conclusions and recommandations (10 pages)

To recommend an international action plan to assist countries and international organizations in responding to the growing demand on poverty statistics;

To recommend the use of a harmonized approach for collecting poverty data to enable poverty comparisons through time and space;

To suggest a broad agreement on data access for outside researchers (data repository).

Addendum: Some comparative poverty statistics

To describe existing approaches to measuring global poverty and to poverty comparison across countries - method based on the 1 dollar per day per person and to present data on the global poverty

To explore complementary approaches to the existing approach to international comparisons of poverty (based on the 1$ per day)

To present comparative data on income and non-income poverty within and across selected regions