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Submitted by Gonzalo Hernández on
There will always be a debate on the way we measure things, especially poverty. I agree that the choice of weights, cutoffs, dimensions and the aggregation issue will always be on debate. In the case of Mexico, the "solution" of the problem (weights, cutoffs..) was simplified for the following reasons: The need to construct a Multidimensional Poverty Measure was a mandate by Congress (the Law of Social Development was launched in 2004). The same Law indicated CONEVAL (an institution created especifically to measure poverty in Mexico) which dimension should be included. The approach CONEVAL undertook for the methodology was based on social rights (following again what the Law and the Constitution mandate). Constructing a poverty measure based on the Mexican regulations, especially the social rights approach, made us take the following decisions: Since all social rights are important, then all social dimensio ns (education, housing, social protection, health, food) must have the same weight. There are various Mexican laws (education, health) which indicate the basic access to all Mexicans, therefore the cutoffs where those indicated in the Mexican regulations. For example, the Educational Law says that the basic and compulsory educational level es Secondary; thus we took that cutoff. In summary: we constructed a technically solid methodology (we hope), but since this was not only an academic exercise but a measure which should be used by the Mexican State, many decisions (dimensions, weights, cutoffs, the general approach) were embedded in the Mexican regulations, which werer decided by Congress (elected by the Mexican population). You can check the CONEVAL's new (2009) multidimensional poverty measurement in www.coneval.gob.mx