Really complex poverty index unveiled

The government announced Thursday an elaborate statistical method that will be used to evaluate poverty.

What is being called a multidimensional poverty index contains five dimensions, education, health, housing and Internet, work and social protection. There are 19 subcategories.

The statistical method was put together by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos, which does household surveys.

Having a job that is off the books is considered to be negative in the employment category. But nowhere does the method address single motherhood, which is well established as a poverty indicator.

The statistical institute said that the index shows that 21.8 percent of the homes and 26.2 percent of the population are classified as poor under these criteria with more poverty in rural areas than in the cities.

A household is considered poor if it received low marks in an handful of categories. These include health insurance, level of education, employment rights, size and condition of the dwelling, access to water, income and number of persons in the household.

The subcategories seem to be highly correlated in that they measure the same thing. For example, living in a rundown dwelling might be related with not having sufficient income.

One subcategory actually tries to assess the quality of the roof of a living space.

Linking poverty to not having Internet access is likely to result in success for the government because there are programs afoot to provide this service to the poor.

The report said that 11.8 percent of the households were classified as poor even though they had sufficient income, and 11.7 percent of the homes are poor based on income alone although they are not considered poor under the new index.

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