Multidimensional Poverty Index 2022

Disparities in multidimensional poverty among ethnic groups are consistently high across many countries and in nine ethnic groups more than 90 percent of the population is trapped in poverty.

The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative measures poverty by considering various deprivations experienced by people in their daily lives, including poor health, insufficient education and a low standard of living. Today’s report examines the level and composition of multidimensional poverty across 109 countries covering 5.9 billion people and presents an ethnicity/race/caste disaggregation for 41 countries with available information.

The report finds that, in some cases, disparities in multidimensional poverty across ethnic and racial groups are greater than disparities across geographical subnational regions. Indeed, when the MPI is disaggregated by ethnic group, the range in values is greater than that across all 109 countries and all other disaggregations tested.

It also shows how, within a country, multidimensional poverty among different ethnic groups can vary immensely. For example, the difference in the percentage of people who are multidimensionally poor across ethnic groups is more than 70 percentage points in Gabon and Nigeria.

In Latin America, indigenous peoples are among the poorest. For instance, in Bolivia indigenous communities account for about 44 percent of the population but represent 75 percent of multidimensionally poor people. The figures are also stark in India where five out of six multidimensionally poor people were from lower tribes or castes.

The multidimensional analysis also maps out next steps. The MPI combines the incidence and the intensity of poverty. The two poorest ethnic groups in Gambia – the Wollof and the Sarahule – have roughly the same MPI value, but their deprivations differ, suggesting different policy actions are needed to reduce multidimensional poverty.

An intrahousehold analysis of multidimensional poverty focused on gender is also included. Worldwide about two-thirds of multidimensionally poor people (836 million) live in households where no woman or girl completed at least six years of schooling. One-sixth of all multidimensionally poor people (215 million) live in households in which at least one boy or man has completed six or more years of schooling but no girl or woman has. The report also finds that women and girls living in multidimensional poverty are at higher risk of intimate partner violence.

Key findings

Worldwide, across 109 countries and 5.9 billion people:

  • 1.3 billion people are multidimensionally poor.
  • About half (644 million) are children under age 18.
  • Nearly 85 percent live in Sub-Saharan Africa (556 million) or South Asia (532 million).
  • Roughly, 84 percent (1.1 billion) live in rural areas, and 16 percent (about 209 million) live in urban areas.
  • In 43 of the 60 countries with both multidimensional and monetary poverty estimates, the incidence of multidimensional poverty was higher than the incidence of monetary poverty.
  • More than 67 percent live in middle-income countries, where the incidence ranges from 0.1 percent to 66.8 percent nationally and from 0.0 percent to 89.5 percent subnationally.
  • Of the 80 countries permitting study of trend data, covering roughly 5 billion people, 70 experienced a statistically significant reduction of the MPI value during at least one period.
  • Of the 20 countries that reduced their MPI value the fastest, 14 were in Sub-Saharan Africa, 3 were in South Asia, 2 were in East Asia and the Pacific and 1 was in Latin America and the Caribbean. The fastest reduction was in Sierra Leone (2013–2017) during the Ebola epidemic, followed by Togo (2013/2014–2017), Mauritania (2011–2015) and Ethiopia (2016–2019).
  • In 24 countries studied for trends there was no statistically significant reduction in multidimensional poverty among children (individuals under age 18) during at least one period. In 15 countries the MPI among children did fall but fell more slowly than the MPI value among adults during at least one period.

But what is the day-to-day reality of life for multidimensionally poor people? The data paint a grim picture:

  • 1 billion each are exposed to solid cooking fuels, inadequate sanitation and substandard housing.
  • 788 million live in a household with at least one undernourished person.
  • 568 million lack improved drinking water within a 30-minute roundtrip walk.

Annex: The dimensions, indicators, deprivation cutoffs, and weights of the global Multidimensional Poverty Index

Dimensions of PovertyIndicatorDeprived if living in the household where…Weight
HealthNutritionAny adult under 70 years of age or any child for whom there is nutritional information is undernourished.11/6
Child mortalityAny child under the age of 18 years has died in the family in the five-year period preceding the survey.2,31/6
EducationYears of schoolingNo household member aged ‘school entrance age + six4 years or older has completed at least six years of schooling.1/6
School attendanceAny school-aged child is not attending school up to the age at which he/she would complete class eight.51/6
Standard of livingCooking FuelThe household cooks with dung, wood, charcoal or coal.1/18
SanitationThe household’s sanitation facility is not improved (according to SDG guidelines) or it is improved but shared with other households.61/18
Drinking WaterThe household does not have access to improved drinking water (according to SDG guidelines) or improved drinking water is at least a 30-minute walk from home, round trip.71/18
ElectricityThe household has no electricity.81/18
HousingAt least one of the three housing materials for roof, walls and floor are inadequate: the floor is of natural materials and/or the roof and/or walls are of natural or rudimentary materials.91/18
AssetsThe household does not own more than one of these assets: radio, television, telephone, computer, animal cart, bicycle, motorbike or refrigerator, and does not own a car or truck.101/18

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