Origins of the IMMP

The Individual Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty Program is housed at the Australian National University and takes forward a body of research with over 10 years of development.

‘Assessing Development: Designing better indices of poverty and gender equity’ (2009-2013)

This program of work originated with research undertaken by The Australian National University (ANU) from 2009 to 2013 with funding from the Australian Research Council. The research project, entitled ‘Assessing Development: Designing better indices of poverty and gender equity’, was a partnership between The ANU and the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA), Oxfam Great Britain, Oxfam America, the Philippine Health Social Science Association and the University of Colorado Boulder. Additional support was provided by the University of Oslo.

The aim of the ‘Assessing Development’ research was to overcome shortcomings in dominant approaches to global poverty measurement, particularly the inability to assess deprivation at the individual level or to adequately reveal the different ways in which women and men experience poverty. The research sought to answer the question: What is a just and justifiable measure of poverty, that is genuinely sensitive to gender and capable of revealing gender disparities? The research was explicitly feminist in its approach and aimed from the outset to be relevant to policy and programming, recognising that better ways of assessing poverty are needed to direct resources to where they will have the greatest impact on poverty and gender inequality.

The ‘Assessing Development’ research adopted a mixed-methods, three-phase design. The first and second phases of the research were conducted in six countries: Angola, Fiji, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique and the Philippines. In each country, research was undertaken in three sites: urban, rural, and a highly marginalised site selected not for geographic location but on the extent of exclusion faced by the community. The third phase was conducted in the Philippines only. The research was approved by The ANU Human Research Ethics Committee, and by the relevant authorities in each country.

The Individual Deprivation Measure Program (2016-2020)

Between 2016 and 2020, our research was further developed through the Individual Deprivation Measure Program. The IDM Program was a partnership between ANU and the International Women’s Development Agency, and funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  The IDM Program revised the survey tools developed through the Assessing Development project, and subjected them to international peer review. Country studies were undertaken, with ANU carrying out studies in Indonesia and South Africa that demonstrated that individual measurement of multidimensional poverty is possible – and its value in identifying the social groups who are being left behind. 

Technical work around the scoring of dimensions and the construction of the overall index was undertaken during the 2016-2020 Program.

IMMP Future Directions

The IMMP, and the associated program of research, take forward the work developed through the Assessing Development project and the Individual Measure of Deprivation (IDM) Program, with the aim of continuing our research on individual-level multidimensional poverty to inform policy and decision-making and to contribute to ending poverty in all its forms, for everyone.

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