Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2019: Illuminating Inequalities


The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) was developed by the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) for the United Nations Development Programme’s flagship Human Development Report in 2010. The global MPI calculates ‘multidimensional poverty’ using 10 indicators that fall under three dimensions of poverty – health, education and standard of living. It compares the multidimensional poverty of 101 countries and 5.7 billion people, and monitors change over time.

This 2019 report says that while poverty is often defined by income (the international poverty rate is US$1.90), it can also be defined in terms of the deprivations people face in their daily lives. It says that the global MPI is one tool to measure progress on the first of the United Nations’ 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, which is to end poverty in all forms.

The report uses data from demographic and health surveys, ‘multiple indicator cluster surveys’ and national surveys. It says that the intensity of poverty experienced by poor people varies across countries, even if they have similar MPI values. It specifically highlights child poverty in South Asia and analyses data on nutrition, school attendance and years of schooling (three global MPI indicators) from a study supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund.


  1. The report says that 1.3 billion people worldwide are poor based on values arrived at using the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which calculates ‘multidimensionally poverty’ using indicators such health, education and standard of living. 

  2. Of these 1.3 billion people, more than two-thirds – 886 million people – live in middle-income countries, where the per capita gross national income is between US$ 1,006 and US$ 12,235.

  3. 84.5 per cent of the 1.3 billion people experiencing multidimensional poverty live in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

  4. In South Asia, 22.7 per cent of children under five live in households in which at least one child is malnourished.

  5. 9 per cent of South Asian boys from ‘multidimensional poor’ households are out of school, compared to 10.7 per cent of girls from such households.

  6. The report draws data from a larger OPHI study on multidimensional poverty in 10 countries – Peru, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Viet Nam, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Haiti. The data shows that, over time, the MPI values in India, Bangladesh and Cambodia reduced the fastest, and within India, they reduced the fastest in Jharkhand.

  7. Jharkhand’s incidence of multidimensional poverty (or the number of people experiencing it) reduced from 74.9 per cent to 46.5 per cent between 2005-06 and 2015-16.

    Focus and Factoids by Sruti Penumetsa.


Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative , United Nations Development Programme


United Nations Development Programme, New York, and Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative, Oxford