Social Indicators Research

, Volume 132, Issue 3, pp 1037–1063 | Cite as

Multidimensional Poverty in Nicaragua: Are Female-Headed Households Better Off?

  • Álvaro José Altamirano MontoyaEmail author
  • Karla Maria Damiano Teixeira


The recognition of poverty as a multidimensional concept has led to the development of more adequate tools for its identification. By allowing for subgroup and regional decompositions, those instruments are useful to allocate public action where most needed. This paper applies the Alkire and Foster (2011a) Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to study single-mother and biparental families in Nicaragua, modifying its original structure to match more closely with the country’s current structural problems. Using Nicaragua’s last Demographic and Health Survey (DHS 2011/2012), our multidimensional poverty figures contrast with the government’s national poverty line estimates, suggesting that income poverty overestimates the number of poor people. Thus, our MPI can help as a complement for traditional consumption poverty and Basic Needs analysis; even extending the exploration by using other official household surveys. On the other hand, multidimensional poverty analysis found poverty dominance of male-headed families over single-mother and female-headed biparental families, which serves to contradict the notion of women being more vulnerable than men. Within the MPI, the most important contributor was the Living Standards dimension, composed by indicators directly related to housing conditions, and the second most deprived dimension was Education. A strong policy implication that arises from our findings is the reduction of the urban–rural poverty gap. Specifically, our findings exalt the need for governmental policies directed to reduce Nicaragua’s housing and educational deficits as a priority, particularly in rural areas.


Multidimensional poverty Female-headed households Single mothers Feminization of poverty Latin America Nicaragua 



The author thanks the Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES) for the scholarship granted for his M.Sc. program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Álvaro José Altamirano Montoya
    • 1
    Email author
  • Karla Maria Damiano Teixeira
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Economia DomésticaUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrazil

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