A multi-dimensional measure of poverty using the fuzzy approach

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DEFINITION OF POVERTY

The definition of poverty is very complex. A definition is difficult to formulate because poverty means different things to different people. Some people may define poverty as a lack of income resulting in the absence of a car or refrigerator, while others may describe it as a lack of formal housing, basic services or opportunities for training and employment. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (1989), the adjective “poor” means “lacking adequate money or means to live comfortably”. The noun “poverty” is defined as “the state of being poor” and as a “want of the necessities of life”. Other definitions for poverty and being poor include expressions such as having a “deficiency in”, “lacking of”, “scantiness”, “inferiority”, “want of”, “leanness or feebleness”, and many more. Historically, the idea that some people are trapped in poverty while others have short spells in poverty was a central element of poverty analysis. Social commentators in eighteenth-century France distinguished between the pauvre and the indigent (Hulme and Mckay 2005). The pauvre experienced spells in poverty, such as seasonal poverty when crops failed or the demand for casual agricultural labour was low. The indigent was trapped in poverty and continued to remain permanently poor because of ill health (physical and mental), the results of an accident, age or alcoholism. The central aim of the policy was to support the pauvre in ways that would stop a person from becoming indigent.
From the above it is clear, firstly, that poverty and the poor are associated with a state of want and deprivation and, secondly, that such deprivation is related to the necessities of life. Thus, the term “poverty”, in its daily use, implies a comparison between the condition of a household or person on the one hand and the perception of the person who speaks or writes about what is necessary to sustain life on the other. Experiences of poverty differ from person to person, from one area to another, and across time. Poverty in India differs from the poverty experienced in England, and poverty in England today is different from the poverty experienced in England 50 years ago. Qizilbash (2002) believes that poverty is a vague concept without a single definition.
One way of trying to find a proper definition is by asking individuals to define poverty to get an idea of what constitutes poverty. This is what the South African Participatory Poverty Assessment (SA-PPA) did. In their survey, conducted in 1998, the SA-PPA found that the definitions of poverty given by the poor differ from those given by people who are not poor. The poor characterize poverty as isolation from the community, a lack of security, low wages, a lack of employment opportunities, poor nutrition, poor access to water, having too many children, poor education opportunities and the misuse of resources. People who are not poor see poverty as a lack of income and a result of bad choices by the poor. It is therefore not easy to get a precise definition of poverty that will suit every situation (May 1998).
Godard (1892:5-6) defines poverty as follows:
Roughly, we may define poverty as ‘An insufficiency of necessaries’; or more fully, as ‘An insufficient supply of those things which are requisite for an individual to maintain himself and those dependent upon him in health and vigour’.
There are several definitions of poverty. There could be considerable debate as to whether poverty should be regarded as absolute or relative; or whether it should be measured as necessities or capabilities or functions; or whether it is only a monetary phenomenon. The measurement of poverty has now become multi-dimensional. This is clearly expressed by the following definition of poverty given by the World Bank (2002): Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not being able to go to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear of the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom.
The World Bank definition of poverty has not changed much from the definition of poverty by Godard (1892) in the nineteenth century. In the current study, poverty is regarded as the measurement of well-being and deprivation, that is, the more deprived a household is, the poorer the household.

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Horizontal and Vertical Vagueness of Poverty

In multi-dimensional poverty studies, there is no consensus as to what the dimensions of poverty should be or how many dimensions are adequate. The following are some examples of dimensions of poverty: a lack of nutrition, housing, safety, clothing and health, income, education, literacy, sanitation and clean drinking water. Some dimensions contribute more to poverty than others, depending on the time and place, and this is referred to as the horizontal vagueness of poverty (Qizilbash 2002). There is no consensus on where or how to distinguish between the poor and those who are not poor in each dimension. So, for example, individuals differ in their nutritional requirements, depending on their age, sex, height and weight. This implies that there is no clear threshold where nutritional poverty starts or where it ends. There is also no consensus as to which level of education is acceptable, since the requirements of society may differ from place to place. Qizilbash (2002) refers to this as the vertical vagueness of poverty. This vagueness of poverty contributed to a large extent to the debate on and difficulty of measuring poverty.

Income Poverty and Human Poverty

The poverty report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP 2000) distinguishes between income poverty and human poverty. Income poverty can be divided further into extreme poverty and overall poverty. Extreme poverty or absolute poverty is the lack of income necessary to satisfy basic food needs, usually defined on the basis of minimum calorie requirements.

1 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION TO POVERTY 
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 DEFINITION OF POVERTY
1.3 LITERATURE STUDY ON POVERTY
1.4 ONE-DIMENSIONAL MEASUREMENT OF POVERTY
1.5 MULTI-DIMENSIONAL MEASUREMENT OF POVERTY
1.6 TECHNIQUES
1.7 SCOPE OF THE THESIS
2 CHAPTER TWO A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL MEASURE OF POVERTY USING THE FUZZY APPROACH 
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 METHODOLOGY
2.3 MEMBERSHIP FUNCTION
2.4 ANALYSIS
2.5 RESULTS
2.6 CONCLUSION
3 CHAPTER THREE THE DISTANCE FUNCTION APPROACH 
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 THE EUCLIDEAN DISTANCE MEASURE
3.3 K MEANS CLUSTERING
3.4 CONCLUSION
4 CHAPTER FOUR NEURAL NETWORK SELF-ORGANIZING MAP 
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 KOHONEN VECTOR QUANTIZATION
4.3 KOHONEN SELF-ORGANIZING MAP
4.4 BATCH SELF-ORGANIZING MAPS
4.5 CONCLUSION
5 CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSION 
5.1 INTRODUCTION
APPENDIX A
APPENDIX B
APPENDIX C
REFERENCES

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