GLOBAL JUSTICE PROGRAM

at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale

Global Justice Program

The Individual Deprivation Measure

Global Justice Program Director Thomas Pogge is one of several authors of the Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM), a new, gender-sensitive poverty metric. The IDM was designed to avoid gender biases built into other poverty measures and to define poverty according to the values and experiences of poor people. Pogge and fellow author Allison Jaggar argue that the IDM should quickly be incorporated into development practice.

Pogge and Jaggar first began imagining a new poverty metric when they discovered that the statistics used to demonstrate the feminization of poverty were not truly convincing and may reflect cultural and gender biases. They set out to design a non-arbitrary metric for poverty that could capture its gendered dimensions.

Scott Wisor, Sharon Bessell, Fatima Castillo, Joanne Crawford, Kieran Donaghue, Janet Hunt, and Amy Liu led the project alongside Jaggar and Pogge. They initiated research in Angola, Fiji, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, and the Philippines, interviewing poor men and women about what defines poverty for them and what escaping poverty would entail.

The people consulted lived in rural and urban communities, and were of different ages, ethnic groups, and religions. Based on these consultations, the researchers were able to develop the IDM, which is a survey-based tool that measures deprivation in 15 dimensions of life: food, water, shelter, sanitation, health care, education, energy/cooking fuel, family relationships, clothing/personal care, violence, family planning, the environment, voice in the community, time-use, and respect and freedom from risk at work.

According to the report, administering the survey is easy and less costly than other commonly used poverty metrics. It is appropriate for use by governments, development agencies, NGOs, and communities. The IDM was piloted in the Philippines, where it was shown to yield significantly different results than the UN’s Multidimensional Poverty Index. The team is exploring other piloting opportunities, for example in Fiji and Costa Rica, and is planning to develop a new technology that will make it easier to record, upload and store survey data. The IDM has also been adapted for use in Israel, where the results it produced have caused a lively media debate.