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Developing a global living standards measure using census microdata

Rodrigo Lovaton Davila, Minnesota Population Center
Sula Sarkar, University of Minnesota

The measurement of living standard across the globe through initiatives such as the Human Development Index (HDI) or the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) allowed re-examining development and inequality. In this study, we define a global measure of living standards based on information readily available in census microdata. We identify seven key living standards indicators, at the household level, that we are able to calculate consistently across countries and census datasets. We use principal component analysis (PCA) to construct an index. The scope of this research is global: it includes 51 censuses from 21 countries across the developing world, covering Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Living standards are analyzed at the national and sub-national levels, using consistent spatial footprints. Changes are also studied through time, taking advantage of harmonized census microdata samples available for the 1990, 2000, and 2010 rounds. Overall results show progress for the countries examined, but progress is uneven and differs within and between countries; progress is also biased towards the urban population.

Keywords: Census data, Harmonized data sets, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Inequality

See paper.

  Presented in Session 199. Augmenting Census and Other Data to Better Understand Spatial Population Distributions