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On Assessing Poverty, Social Welfare and Inequality with Ordinal Multidimensional Data

Wednesday 02 February 2011, 3.30pm-5.00pm
EAS E168, East Building

Professor Lars Peter Østerdal
Department of Economics
University of Copenhagen

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Traditional approaches to social welfare and inequality assessment assume that a person's well-being or poverty status can be measured in monetary terms, like annual income, and a specified index measures the amount of social welfare or inequality in a population. In recent years there has been an increased recognition of the importance of including other dimensions than the monetary one - such as health and education status - in analyzing poverty, social welfare and inequality. The use of multidimensional poverty/welfare/inequality indices is, however, far from being well established in empirical studies. A major obstacle for the use of such multidimensional indices is that it is very hard to determine the relative importance of each dimension. Under these circumstances, relying on any single multidimensional index tend to be ad hoc and lacking in analytical robustness. This talk will discuss the challenges of assessing multidimensional social welfare and inequalities without relying on ad hoc aggregation methods and present some new approaches to this problem.

Lars Peter