Estimating Expenditure-Based Poverty from the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey

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Author(s): Schreiner, M

Year: 2011

Bangladesh Journal of Development Studies. 2011 34(4): 65–94.

It is widely believed that inequalities in health are related with poverty but formal analysis of the health-poverty nexus is hampered by data constraints. In particular, the most common measure of poverty compares expenditure with poverty lines, but expenditure surveys usually do not collect detailed health data. Conversely, the large repository of internationally comparable Demographic and Health Surveys has detailed health data but no expenditure data. This has led DHS researchers to control socio-economic status using an asset index defined in terms of housing characteristics and ownership of durable goods. While this may be a valid conception of poverty, it is difficult to compare the asset-based measure with the more common consumption based measure. This paper presents a simple poverty scorecard for Bangladesh that allows researchers to estimate the likelihood that expenditure is below a given poverty line using ten verifiable, inexpensive-to-collect indicators found in both Bangladesh’s 2004 DHS and also in the 2005 Household Income and Expenditure Survey. The estimates of poverty from the scorecard are then compared with those of the DHS asset index.