How Should Poverty Be Measured?

    In middle-income countries such as Thailand, employing absolute poverty measures, which only cover income or consumption, may be useful to policymaking, but they overlook the human and social aspects of poverty, an expert argues.

    Absolute poverty measures risk “ignoring the needs of those who are poor, but not poor enough to be below a set income line,” according to Andrew Chambers, who previously worked in the charity sector and now teaches in Thailand.

    “[P]overty reduction needs to be about more than just statistics, indicators or measures. They are all useful, but no person or group can be reduced simply to a number on a chart,” Chambers writes in the “Poverty Matters” blog published in the Guardian.

    To measure poverty in Thailand, Chambers suggests the use of a bottom-up approach that employs consultation with communities to ensure that they participate in creating their own development policies.

    “That should be the ultimate yardstick to measure poverty policies in Thailand, and is the necessary next step for middle-income countries to continue with their progress in poverty alleviation,” Chambers says.

    About the author

    • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

      As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.