Multidimensional Poverty Index as a tool for public policy: The case of Colombia

Andrea Franco, UNU-MERIT / School of Governance

The objective of this paper is to describe and analyse the process of adopting a multidimensional poverty measure as a tool to monitor public policies, particularly in the case of Colombia. A qualitative analysis of the design, implementation and monitoring of multidimensional poverty goals is performed for the cases of a medium term national goal (4 years) and an application in a social program (Red UNIDOS). The paper compares the results of in-depth interviews with policymakers, the analysis of social documents and how newspaper articles reflect the change in the language from exclusively a monetary measure of poverty, to a combination with a multidimensional poverty measure. The analysis is motivated on the fast evolution of poverty measurement, especially the widespread use of the Adjusted Headcount Ratio (AHR) of the Alkire-Foster (2009) family of indicators. This paper finds that the successful implementation of a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in Colombia as a national goal is due to a convergence of different events. The main drivers of this process were the timing, commitment of public servants and communication strategies. On the other hand, the driver of using an MPI as a condition in a social program is completely different. It is a consequence of the adoption of a national goal. How sustainable in time is the use of an MPI as a public policy tool is not possible to be assessed. Nonetheless, the evidence suggested by this paper shows that an adaptation of indicators, a change in the language and better awareness of the effects of normative decision making are needed to guarantee its continuity and utility.

Discussant: Julieta Marotta

Venue: Conference room, Keizer Karelplein 19, Maastricht

Date: 28 October 2014

Time: 14:00 - 14:45