Regional Seminar on Definitions and Measurement of Urban Poverty

22 Nov 2007 to 23 Nov 2007

ESCAP defines poverty as having three inter-related and inter-locking aspects: (a) lack of regular income, employment opportunities and purchasing power, (b) lack of access to services (such as health, education and water) and (c) lack of political power, participation, dignity and respect. A multi-dimensional definition of poverty, whereby all deprivations are inter woven, may make it, however, more difficult to objectively and quantifiably measure people’s poverty.

Current approaches to measuring poverty such as the $1 a day measure fail to capture the multi-dimensional nature of poverty. Current approaches are further problematic for measuring urban poverty, because poverty has traditionally been considered a rural problem rather than an urban problem and, as such, measurement tools have been based on former over the latter.

With the majority of the population in this region expected to be living in urban areas by 2025 and many of those urban residents being poor it is important to monitor the trends in order to take policy measures to avoid an ‘urbanization of poverty’. New ways of measuring urban poverty must be devised to enable policy makers and researchers to better understand urban poverty.

This two-day seminar will be structured around a series of discussion sessions on the definition of poverty, what is specifically urban about urban poverty, data available for measuring urban poverty in Cambodia, Philippines, India, Indonesia and Thailand and whether standard methods must simply be improved or whether they should be replaced.