OPHI’s Impact: A Ten-Year Retrospective. Opinion from Anthony Shorrocks

8 June, 2018
A. Shorrocks´Private Collection

The way that poverty is assessed has changed profoundly during the past ten years. A decade ago, the merits of the capability approach pioneered by Amartya Sen were widely recognised, but in practice poverty was invariably judged in terms of material resources versus household needs.

Evaluating poverty in terms of capabilities still poses enormous challenges, but nowadays it is universally acknowledged that there are important dimensions to poverty other than income or resources – especially, but not exclusively, health – which need to be absorbed from the outset, rather than simply added as an afterthought.

Anthony Shorrocks is the Director of Global Economic Perspectives (GEP). Former director of the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) of the United Nations University. Professor at the University of Essex.

OPHI has been a driving force in this transformation, not only leading the way with its own research, but also persuading agencies, institutions and even governments to proceed along the same route. It has been aided significantly by the increase in the quantity and coverage of data that is now available and easily accessible.

Looking towards the future, data resources and availability will remain central to improvements in the way that poverty is understood and assessed. More attention to the type of data collected will also be needed in order to make rapid progress. Most crucially in my view, radically new policies need to be devised that recognise our deeper understanding of the problem of poverty and that harness the technological developments of the past half century. These have improved the lives of so many people on the planet, but have left so many others behind, as the work of OPHI documents


Published in Dimensions Special Issue – June 2018

Anthony Shorrocks OPHI