Tuesday, January 03, 2006

POVERTY: Alternative Economic Indicators of Impoverishment

Economists use a wide range of variables as indicators of the level of poverty. Some of the more common are given below. Those listed fall into two categories. The first is Health Indicator, and the second measures access to and the impact of education.

Measures of Good Health
Infant mortality - The number of live born babies who do not survive to their first birthday out of each thousand babies born in total.

Life expectancy (at birth) - The average number of years a new born baby can expect to live if conditions remain the same.

Calories per day - The main cause of malnutrition, which means the body has insufficient energy to maintain good health.

Protein per day - Lack of protein causes malnutrition and lack of mental development as protein deficiency when the mother is pregnant has an adverse effect on the intellectual development of the fetus.

Number of doctors per 100,000 of the population - This is an indicator of the level of health care available. The higher the number of doctors per 100,000, the better the level of health care should be.

Number of hospital beds per 100,000 - This also is an indicator of the standard of health care. The more beds available per 100,000 of the population, the better the access to health care for the people.

Measure of Access to and Impact of Education
Literacy rates - The percentage of the population over the age of 15 who can read and write a simple sentence about their lives.

Primary school enrolment rate - The number of children of primary school age who are enrolled at school as % of age group.

Secondary school enrolment rate - The higher the enrolment rate, the more children have access to secondary education and therefore the higher the overall educational standards are likely to be.

Individual indicators invariably fail to consider all the characteristics of poverty. Economists have consequently attempted to construct measures or indices that combine several of the individual indicators together. These are called composite indicators.

Adapted from: http://www.bized.ac.uk/virtual/dc/farming/theory/th1.htm

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