Child Poverty Measurement and Monitoring in the Context of SDG1.1 and SDG1.2

SPRI Global Working Paper
Child Poverty Measurement and Monitoring

Operationalising SDGs 1.1 and 1.2 require explicitly for child poverty and deprivation indicators to be identified and used. This provides an opportunity to advance innovations in using child indicators, while taking into consideration the local context. The post-2015 development agenda as anchored by the SDGs broadly aims to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and extend the benefits of sustainable economic development to all, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable populations among which are children. Focusing on children’s wellbeing in poverty research requires measuring children’s monetary poverty (SDG 1.1) and children’s multidimensional, non-monetary poverty (SDG 1.2).

Achieving these SDG sub-targets therefore set development challenges in terms of designing the most suitable indicators for measuring both monetary and multidimensional poverty for children. The former has a long tradition measuring child poverty as the absolute number or the percentage of children living in households below a defined poverty line. Measuring multidimensional poverty (SDG 1.2) is less well developed especially when children are concerned.

This paper discusses the data- and indicator selection criteria needed to measure multidimensional poverty among children. In addition to assessing the suitability and standards such indicators must meet to match the needs of a baseline figure for SDG1 monitoring, this paper reviews the recent practices in this research area and provides empirical examples of several low and upper-middle income countries to propose how indicators measuring children’s multidimensional poverty can be used to monitor SDG 1.1 and 1.2 for children.

The study proposes two indicators that comprehensively measure respectively SDG1.1 – monetary child poverty headcount rate and SDG1.2 – multidimensional child poverty headcount rate. The former reveals the rate of children living in poor households in a population and therefore helps monitor progress towards achieving the first SDG. This measure is necessarily complemented by the multidimensional child poverty headcount rate (MCPR) given the wealth of poverty dynamics and inequalities that can be learned through the combined applications of both indicators rather than either one on its own using national datasets, to accurately and effectively target the reduction of poverty in all its forms. Both indicators can be complemented by derivative figures indicating the overall incidence and intensity of deprivation among children.

Eliminating either type of poverty alone risks omitting a group of children who are considered to be poor according to either of these definitions, and therefore exacerbating inequities. Cases of national studies where the rate of children’s monetary poverty tends to fall far below the rate of multidimensional poverty best illustrate this. Both indicators are therefore important for targeting and monitoring progress for poverty eradication to meet needs essential to children’s development, which is ultimately essential to the sustainable development of all nations. For children, achieving all 17 SDGs is inter-related. The representation of nearly all SDGs in both proposed SDG1.1 and SDG1.2 indicators, as far as the parameters and relevant datasets allow, therefore enhances the value of these indicators for baseline monitoring from now until 2030.

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