A New UN Poverty Index Shows Brazil with an Improvement of 20% in Six Years

    A shantytown in Rio

    A shantytown in Rio Brazil’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (“MPI”) has dropped by 22.5% in six years. According to the Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) last week, the MPI went down from 4% in 2006 to 3.1% in 2012. The sector of the population on the verge of multidimensional poverty has also fallen, going from 11.2% to 7.4%.

    Unlike the HDI, an estimate of development status based on life expectancy, income, and education, the calculation of the MPI takes into account health indicators (nourishment and child mortality), education (school years and enrollment) and housing (LP gas, bathrooms, water, electricity, flooring, and durable goods). The MPI replaced the Human Poverty Index.

    Another difference between the indexes lies in the use of domestic figures. The HDI is calculated according to statistics from the World Bank, the International Labor Organization, and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    In Brazil’s case, the MPI is based on the National Household Sample Survey (“PNAD”), from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (“IBGE”).

    However, Andréa Bolzon, coordinator of Human Development Atlas of Brazil, says the countries’ different MPI’s cannot be compared, since the collection of international data is not standardized. “The best way to compare Brazil is the comparison with itself. Indicators show a significant evolution in the reduction of multidimensional poverty.”

    Bolzon further states that the main purpose of the MPI is to depict the country’s state of poverty without taking into consideration income alone.

    International standards have set the poverty line at a daily US$ 1.25 per person. “The [MPI] aims to collect not just information on income, but also on material conditions for survival.”

    When different criteria are considered, poverty in Brazil as measured by the HDI in 2012 (6.14%) is greater than the country’s multidimensional poverty (3.1%).



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