Dr. Ricardo Morel Berendson

Beyond money metrics: Essays on Multidimensional Poverty

Year: 2024

Franziska Gassmann, Bruno Martorano & Nyasha Tirivayi


This dissertation explores poverty measurement from a multidimensional perspective, inspired by the capability approach, testing its relevance and applicability for assessing development and social programmes. To provide evidence for this argument, the dissertation integrates three impact evaluation studies, each employing a unique multidimensional methodology. The first study compares two multidimensional poverty indices built using the Alkire-Foster method to assess the impacts of Peru’s national conditional cash transfer programme, Juntos. One index used the standard global structure while the other was customised to the programme’s theory of change. The second study tailors a multidimensional index, also using the Alkire-Foster method, to the outcomes of a multifaceted programme pioneered in Uganda, which combines microfinance and farming extension services. The third study runs a high-frequency panel survey to understand the seasonal effects of microfinance and its integration with farming extension services on food security and dietary diversity indices. The main insights gained through this empirical work is that customizing multidimensional measurement to programmatic outcomes and local conditions is essential for accurate assessments. This sensitivity became evident when comparing the generic and the Juntos-tailored indices. The research also emphasizes the need to delve into individual indicators within the index for a comprehensive understanding of the underlying dynamics across dimensions. This exercise was essential to find that the multifaceted approach was more effective than delivering programmes separately. In sum, consideration of programmatic and contextual factors is key to produce useful measurement approaches. Additionally, while multidimensional indices provide valuable insights, they face limitations and should be complement with income and consumption metrics.

Selected publications by Ricardo Morel Berendson