, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 655–683 | Cite as

Towards a multidimensional poverty index for Germany

  • Nicolai SuppaEmail author
Original Paper


This paper proposes a more comprehensive multidimensional poverty index for an advanced economy like Germany. Drawing on the capability approach as conceptual framework, I apply the Alkire–Foster method to the German context. Special attention is paid to the conceptual integration. Specifically, I argue for including material deprivation and employment as important dimensions, but against using an additional lack-of-income indicator. The results are consistent with previous findings and also offer new insights. In particular, I find specific poverty profiles (e.g., for the elderly), but also that gaps in poverty between subpopulations change over time. Importantly, the results suggest that genuine multidimensional measures add unique insights, which neither a single indicator, nor a dashboard approach can offer. Finally, the analysis reveals multidimensional and income-poverty measures to disagree on who is poor. The subsequent analysis of this mismatch lends empirical support to abandon a lack-of-income dimension.


Multidimensional poverty Capability approach Counting approach Alkire–Foster method Capability deprivation SOEP 

JEL Classification

I32 D63 H1 



The author gratefully acknowledges funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG), Grant No. RI441/6-1. Moreover, this paper benefited from very helpful comments and suggestions made by participants at the annual conferences of the Human Development and Capability Association (2014), the International Society for Quality of Life Studies (2014), the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (2015), the International Institute of Public Finance (2015), the Verein für Socialpolitik (2015) and by participants of the UNECE Seminar on Poverty Measurement (2015), the SOEP Brownbag Seminar (2015) and one anonymous referee. All remaining errors are my own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsTU DortmundDortmundGermany

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