Économie et Statistique n° 383-384-385 - 2005Approaches to Poverty: the Test of International Comparisons
The many facets of poverty in a developing country. The case of the Madagascan capital.
The multidimensional nature of poverty is rarely taken into consideration in countries where poverty is the most rife. Data available on the Madagascan capital is used to compare different poverty approaches and shed new light on the nature and extent of poverty. In addition to the most classic monetary definition, other concepts of poverty are based either on objective criteria (material living conditions, human capital and social exclusion) or on the households' subjective evaluations (general perception, satisfaction of needs deemed vital and being financially well off), rarely taken into account in poor countries. Is there an easily identifiable hard core of poor individuals to be reduced? Or are we looking at different forms of poverty that only partially overlap and call for different policies? The low level of correspondence between the different approaches confirms the multidimensional nature of poverty. The definition of poor populations by the different types of approaches also gives rise to different profiles. For example, social origin and trajectory variables influence 'subjective' poverty, but have no direct effect on poverty defined by objective criteria. These findings suggest that poverty reduction strategies cannot be based on a single instrument or concern a single field, but should use a range of measures covering all the different aspects of poverty.