Social Indicators Research

, Volume 140, Issue 3, pp 1077–1108 | Cite as

Poverty as Functioning Deprivation: Global Estimates

  • Rafi Amir-ud-Din
  • Faisal Abbas
  • Sajid Amin Javed


Poverty alleviation and eradication have always remained a major challenge for the political leadership at the national and international level. However, no consensus exists about the definition and measurement of poverty. Recent understanding sees poverty as much more than lack of income. Hunger, unemployment and ill heath are just some of many dimensions of poverty. We have contributed to the existing debate by defining poverty as a deprivation of a number of functionings (actual achievements), considered vital but not equally important for human wellbeing, caused by an inadequate command over market or nonmarket resources. We have identified nine basic functionings and corresponding indicators that best reflect these nine basic functionings and develop a composite index of poverty for 193 countries of the world for cross country comparison. We have analyzed poverty for two periods 1990–2000 and 2001–2010 to make an inter-temporal comparison in global poverty. According to our estimates, the global poverty has only modestly come down by 4 percentage points from 35% in 1990–2000 to 31% in 2001–2010. This contrasts sharply with the estimates based on the poverty line of the World Bank that the proportion of population living in extreme poverty has nearly halved from 47% in 1990 to 24% in 2015.


Poverty alleviation Capability approach Human development Capabilities and functionings 



We warmly acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Asad Zaman (PIDE, Islamabad) in this study. We are grateful to Sabina Alkire (OPHI, Oxford) for her useful advice on many important issues in this study. We also thank Suman Seth (OPHI, Oxford), Koen Decancq (HDCSP, University of Antwerp) and unknown referees for their valuable comments. All errors are our own. Dr. Faisal Abbas acknowledges the generous fellowship support provided by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management SciencesCOMSATS Institute of Information TechnologyLahorePakistan
  2. 2.Independent ResearcherIslamabadPakistan
  3. 3.Policy Solutions LabSustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)IslamabadPakistan
  4. 4.Experienced Research Fellow, Courant Research Center, Poverty, Equity and Growth in transition and developing countries, Department of EconomicsGeorge August UniversityGöttingenGermany

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