May 2012

IZA DP No. 6589: A Counting Approach for Measuring Multidimensional Deprivation

This paper is concerned with the problem of ranking and quantifying the extent of deprivation exhibited by multidimensional distributions, where the multiple attributes in which an individual can be deprived are represented by dichotomized variables. To this end we first aggregate deprivation for each individual into a "deprivation count", representing the number of dimensions for which the individual suffers from deprivation. Next, by drawing on the rank-dependent social evaluation framework that originates from Sen (1974) and Yaari (1988) the individual deprivation counts are aggregated into summary measures of deprivation, which prove to admit decomposition into the mean and the dispersion of the distribution of multiple deprivations. Moreover, second-degree upward and downward count distribution dominance are shown to be useful criteria for dividing the measures of deprivation into two separate subfamilies. To provide a normative justification of the dominance criteria we introduce alternative principles of association (correlation) rearrangements, where either the marginal deprivation distributions or the mean deprivation are assumed to be kept fixed.