Rethinking poverty analysis, towards a multidimensional approach to deprivation

Publié le 31 mars 2022

Auteur : Abdelhamid NECHAD

Published in:

Journal of Economics and Social Development (JESD) Resilient Society

Vol. 8, No. 2, September 2021

Inventors of quantitative estimation of national income, which received much attention, attempted to explain that their ultimate and main interest was the wealth of human existence, although what impressed were their indices, rather than their motivations. Yet, such deep and underlying motivation has often been ignored in economic analysis where means of existence are the center and fruit of research. It is, however, important not to confuse the means and ends. Therefore, one should not focus on the intrinsic importance of income, but rather assess it depending on what it builds, particularly lives that are worthy of living. Having a decent income helps to avoid early death.

Such an enterprise depends also on other characteristics, namely the organization of society, including public health, medical care, the nature of education and educational system, the scope of social cohesion and harmony, etc. Considering only means of existence or directly observing the type of life people lead constitutes a real difference.1

These observations and findings reveal a contrast between the approaches based on utility and resources and the approach based on capabilities, of which the initiator is Amartya Sen (Nobel Prize of economics in 1998). The capabilities approach, therefore, attempts to put things right by focusing on the possibility of effective ends concrete freedom of attaining reasoned ends, rather than focusing on means.

The present paper falls into two parts. The first part will try to highlight the imperfection of traditional monetary indicators as well as the difficulties to measure the different dimensions of poverty, particularly in emerging countries, such as Morocco. We argue that poverty is not merely an idea of inadequacy of economic means of an individual, but rather a fundamental shortage that deprivation entails minimum adequate capability. The second part deals with a reorientation towards capabilities in order to explain the extent to which the latter (the capabilities approach) could serve as a basis for the assessment of the level of deprivation and not that of resources, which focuses on income and wealth.


resilient society journal of economic and social development