This research project addresses the overarching research question: What factors shape pathways into and out of poverty and people's experience of these, and how can policy create sustained routes out of extreme poverty in ways that can be replicated and scaled up?
We use the Alkire-Foster or AF (2011) method, in two very new and policy-relevant ways. The AF method first observes which deprivations each person experiences. It identifies people as multidimensionally poor based on the percentage of deprivations they have, then builds a rigorous but simple measure.
1. Repeated cross-sectional AF measures now exist for a large number of countries to analyse the trends and drivers of extreme multidimensional poverty-at both the individual and group level. Poverty levels and trends will be disaggregated by ethnicity, regions, caste, religion, age group, and the drivers of change will be analysed. At the macro level we will study pathways out of poverty related to public expenditure, growth, inequality, governance, policy integration, and other variables. Because ethnic and religious groups are often among the poorest of the poor, we will look up close at poverty of these different groups, to see if a general reduction in poverty included them--or left them behind. At the micro level we will check whether households without an empowered woman seem to have been left behind more often. We will then be able to analyse whether and in what circumstances settings with 'integrated policies' go along with high rates of poverty reduction, or more equalizing trends across social groups.
Doing this research requires us to construct, first of all, an innovative, high quality, and large set of poverty statistics ('databank). We anticipate that this data bank will include data on sixty countries, including over 30 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, plus 13 of the 15 poorest countries in South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America. We should have disaggregated data down to the subnational level for about three-quarters of the countries. The final dataset with its associated statistics will be made publically available, and will provide the basis for the proposed micro and macro-econometric analyses to be undertaken in this research.
2. We aim to evaluate what policies have been effective in enabling the poor to escape multiple interconnected dimensions of poverty. We will undertake two country case studies (probably Nepal and Senegal), working closely with government members of the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network. Through extensive qualitative interviews with policy leaders and analysts, we will undertake a study of integrated policy interventions and their effectiveness in reducing poverty in several dimensions. These studies provide the project with more localized, contextualized insights that impact project outputs and poverty reduction policies. This research will prove invaluable to other countries wishing to design integrated policies to reduce multidimensional poverty.
We will also design and test a new multidimensional methodology for formal impact evaluation. This innovative approach to impact evaluation will enable research users to evaluate programmes and certain policies using a multidimensional lens. This will provide a new tool to pinpoint what kinds of integrated policies better enable the poor to leave and stay out of several dimensions of poverty at the same time. The use of multidimensional outcome measures in RCTs could alter the RCT landscape.
An objective of this research is to focus on the possible policy uptake of lessons learned and research findings. Our experience with the country members of the MPPN, a network of 37 countries for which OPHI acts a Secretariat, shows us that involving these governments as partners from the very beginning is essential to insure research uptake. Also essential are effective and proactive communications strategies to reach strategic audiences.
Stream 1 of the research will produce new econometric analyses of multidimensional poverty that will go beyond description to analyse the determinants of poverty reduction, and do so in over 60 countries. Academics and others working in poverty research and analysis will benefit since this is brand new research in terms of methodology and country coverage. The findings will also impact integrated policy responses-as we uncover what have been the most effective combination of policies to reduce multidimensional poverty. The research outputs will provide insights on how the different aspects of poverty are interrelated-giving governments policy levers for more effective anti poverty policies. Since the work will be planned from the beginning with MPPN country members, it will be through this forum that we expect the immediate uptake of this work.
In Stream 2, the major impact will be on impact evaluation methodologies and their alternatives. The use of multidimensional outcome measures in RCTs could alter the RCT landscape. These multidimensional RCTs will provide better, more integrated analyses of changes in interlocking deprivations to those wishing to evaluate multi-sectoral, multi-objective projects. The qualitative country case studies will complement the quantitative work and methodologies, and will provide the two countries chosen (most likely Nepal and Senegal) with detailed and policy-oriented analysis to inform actions in the short term.
Through uptake of its findings in both research streams by the public sector as well as other agencies (as in the case of the MPI), the expected impact is on the lives of the poor-better data leading to more integrated and effective policies to move the poor out of poverty.
To the greatest extent possible, we involve collaborators from the study contexts and we invest in junior scholars with mentoring and capacity building via email and Skype.
Both streams of research will generate papers to be published first as OPHI working papers and then as peer-reviewed academic papers. The econometric analysis and the RCTs will each yield a set of field-building papers that may form at least one special issue of a journal.
Our harmonized databank on multidimensional poverty will be freely accessible online. The proposed ground-breaking studies on ethnic and religious decompositions of multidimensional poverty will be posted with the same detail as existing subnational tables over time. This will enable other researchers to use the databank for additional research.
With our close working connection with the MPPN countries, we will translate research results into policy briefs, and make presentations at the annual meetings of the MPPN. Based on the results of the research we will make recommendations for improved anti-poverty actions.
We will publish the two case studies and with our local collaborators in those countries make presentations of results to the governments, academia and civil society of those countries.
A new set of empirical studies on multidimensional impacts will be published as working papers as well as in peer-reviewed academic journals, We will develop and publish a modified multidimensional RCT evaluation method.
To make the methodologies and results developed under this project accessible to stakeholders and researcher users, they will verified, then be made available in OPHI's training courses and website. OPHI stresses individual capacity building through intensive, technical training and technical support. OPHI will incorporate this project's research outcomes into its (separately funded) training and technical support programs so that research users have accessible guidelines for implementation based on extensive and detailed academic studies.