Poverty Measures in Developing Countries

Poverty Measures in Developing Countries

Poverty is a state whereby people lack a certain amount of money or material possessions. The amount involved is dependent on the poverty line in the relevant country. Poverty line is the level of family or personal income below which one is classified as poor according to the standards set up by the government. The poverty line is significantly high in developed countries compared to developing countries. In 2008, the World Bank estimated the international poverty line to be $1.25 a day. This is based on the purchasing power parity. Poverty is believed to be a vicious circle since poverty causes poverty.  Just as the rich get richer because they are already rich, poor people get poorer because they live in poverty. In a sense, the same logic can be applied to countries which are down the poverty line. They will get poorer and poorer because they are already poor.  There are many factors which will contribute to ensure that this vicious circle is hardly ever broken.

Developing countries are the most affected by this stance. Several issues are involved in measuring poverty in these countries. These issues can be analyzed by giving a thorough scrutiny to some poverty line indices like food and income poverty lines. However, using poverty line solely is not effective since poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon. This calls for some attention on the choice of poverty measure too.

Among the issues involved in measuring poverty is availability of land. Most developing countries depend on agriculture as a major contributor to their economy. Agricultural activities conducted are both in large scale and small scale. Large scale agriculture is involved with production of food stuff for export purposes. Some of these products are also consumed in the local markets. On the other hand, small scale agriculture is meant for sustaining household consumption. This is for both livestock and farming practices. The connection of land and poverty comes in when there is lack of land to enhance these agricultural activities. This means that families and societies dominated by the agricultural scope will not have the ability of enhancing sustenance. Having sufficient food will tend to be a big problem to this people. They will be affected by the food poverty line. Others that depend on agriculture for commercial purposes are also subject of poverty under this scope. Lack of land will mean that their production levels are reduced significantly. This way, they have nothing to take to the market. Outright this means that there is no generation of income. Income poverty line comes in at this point. There is no adequate money to buy the desired basic needs. As a result, the people involved tend to leave below the poverty line.

Low level of education is another issue that can be used to measure poverty in developing countries. Until recently, most developing countries had not fully embraced the necessity of education. Various occurrences along the way have prompted people in these countries to change this ideology. However, the levels of education are very low. This is for both formal and informal education. Many institutions in developing countries are not up to the desired standards. This is in terms of resources and policies being instituted. The curriculums used also tend to act as a stumbling block. Many developing countries tend to imitate what is being done in the developed countries. The quest to this realization results to total failure due to differences in structures and economic abilities. As a result, many people end up having low levels of education. This affects their lives since it tends to determine what field of the economy they will be involved in. The lower the level of education, the lower the incentive to economic development. Only a few people tend to reap benefits based on their education level. The aspect heightens the level of poverty in these countries. This is because the number of dependency ratio is too high. There is huge income difference hence disparity in living standards.

Generation of low income from industrialization is another issue that can be used to measure poverty in developing countries. Most of the income from developing countries arises from farm activities. Farming activities does not generate massive income compared to the industrial activities. Most of these countries export their raw materials. The raw materials are then converted to other products which are brought back and sold at exorbitant prices.  At this level, the balance of payments is not favorable at all. In the long-run, this activity languishes a country into poverty. Farming is also a seasonal activity for most products. During the recession period, individuals involved in the activity undergo through a bad economic period. It is also likely to be affected by numerous unseen occurrences. Once they strike, massive losses are experienced.

Levels of entrepreneurship and innovation can also be used as a measure of poverty. In developing countries, innovation and entrepreneurship is very low. The education curriculums used tend to give students a similar direction of searching employment for white collar jobs. Many opportunities are left unexploited, as a result. A good number of the workforce remains unemployed while they have the ability of doing something constructive and earn a living. Through entrepreneurship and innovation, a lot of job opportunities would also be created. This would reduce the poverty levels since a large number of the workforce is absorbed into the job market. Innovation plays a vital role in development. Doing without it means lacking on many opportunities. As a result of lack of full exploitation, Poverty is likely to strike.

Importance of Using More Than One Poverty Measure

Policy makers should use more than one poverty measure while addressing the issues. This is based on the benefits associated with using more than one measure. Among the importance of using more than one poverty measure is that the policy makers will get the actual aspects of poverty in the country of concern. People in the same country experience poverty from different dimensions. This is based on the way of life that they lead or the community that they originate from. A certain aspect might bring poverty to a given community but has no effect on the other. If the policy makers were to use one measure of poverty on such a scenario, it would not be effective. The results obtained would not be useful in any way since they do not portray the actual sense of how things are.

Using more than one poverty measure also helps while making the final decision. When different measures have been used, a wide range of possible solutions are drawn. From these solutions it is possible to choose the most effective and efficient based on the matter at hand. The solutions are analyzed by all relevant members based on different criteria. Different perceptions are given room to help in the analysis process. Using one poverty measure would restrict this possibility. This means that the solution set forward to deal with the problem might not be the most effective. Ineffectiveness would result due to some necessary conditions being omitted.



Leguizamon, S. (2009). Poverty an international glossary ([2nd ed.). London, England: Zed       Books.

Lemmi, A., & Betti, G. (2006). Fuzzy set approach to multidimensional poverty measurement.      New York: Springer.

Spechter, k. (2007). Tackling rural poverty in developing countries. London: The Stationery          Office.

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