In the first study of multidimensional poverty in Benin using the consensual or socially perceived necessities approach, Shailen Nandy and Marco Pomati find a high degree of consensus about what constitutes the necessities of life and an adequate standard of living. Using data from the 2006 Demographic and Household survey for Benin, the study shows how social consensus provides the basis for a reliable and valid index of multiple deprivation, which can be used to reflect multidimensional poverty in a low-income country. In 2011, Benin was ranked 166th out of 187 countries by the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index. 
The table below shows for 26 items covering all aspects of living standards, the percentage considering the item ‘essential,’ the percentage consider the item ‘more or less necessary’ and the percentage considering the item not necessary.  It then shows the percentage of households reporting that their need for that item was ‘not at all satisfied’. The table is sortable by column.

Items consider essential and percentage of housholds whose needs are 'not at all satisfied'

Items considered essential in Benin and percentage whose needs for that item are satisified

Item % Essential % More or less necessary % No, not necessary % respondents reporting needs "not at all satsified"
Need to have access to drinking water 84% 15% 0% 26%
Need to take care of oneself when sick 84% 16% 0% 19%
Having a stable and long-term job 82% 18% 1% n/a
Need to be able to send children to school 79% 20% 1% 13%
Need to have access to electricity 77% 22% 2% 46%
Need to have three meals per day 74% 24% 2% 7%
Need to have a house 71% 24% 5% 16%
Need to have a radio 71% 28% 1% n/a
Need to have mode of transportation 68% 30% 2% 31%
Need to take care of own body (soap, barber etc.) 67% 32% 1% 11%
A good meal on festivities/celebrations (Sunday, ceremony, etc.) 64% 33% 4% 7%
Need to have personal care products 62% 36% 2% 15%
Need to have tables and beds 62% 36% 2% 36%
Have a change of clothes (at least two) 61% 36% 2% 10%
Need to have a spacious house 59% 37% 4% n/a
Need to be able to buy a television 59% 38% 4% n/a
Need to have several sets of shoes 58% 38% 4% 10%
Need to have meat or fish every day 57% 36% 7% 10%
Need to be able to take a taxi 56% 42% 2% n/a
Need to have birth control 55% 37% 8% n/a
Need to have cereals or food made from roots or tubers every day 51% 37% 12% 5%
Need to take vacation 51% 43% 6% 22%
Need to be able to take the bus 45% 46% 9% n/a
Need to be able to buy presents when needed 44% 51% 5% n/a
Need to have vegetables every day 43% 40% 17% 5%
Need to work day and night 17% 24% 60% n/a
Source: Calculated from Benin DHS 2006; N =17,483
Out of 26 items asked about, 22 were considered by more the 50 % of respondents to be ‘essential’. Of these essential items, there was no data on satisfaction with needs being satisfied for 6 of the items, leaving 16 items consider essential for which there was data on satisfaction.
of households in Benin were 'not at all satisfied' with their access to electricity
These items were tested for validity and reliability against:
  1. Respondent’s evaluations of their household income status
  2. Respondent’s evaluations of their current financial situation
  3. Respondent’s evaluations of the stability of their household income, and
  4. Respondent’s quintile on the DHS household wealth index
Using this 16 items deprivation index:
  • 36% of households have no deprivations
  • 34% have 1 to 3 deprivations
  • 31% have 4 or more deprivations, and
  • 23 % have 5 or more deprivations.
To identify a ‘poverty threshold, the study used information about household assets as data on household income was not collected.  A threshold of four or more necessities was identified.

Consensus about what is essential

Nandy and Pomati further show that there is a high degree of consensus as to these across age, gender, level of education, migrant status, religion and ethnicity.  For example, what younger respondents think essential is very similar to what older respondents report; what women think are essential are also likely to be thought essential by men, etc. 

No evidence of adaptive preference

The study also found strong evidence of lack of adaptive preference among the surveyed population of Benin. Indeed, people in poverty (i.e. defined here as those deprived of four or more socially perceived necessities) were marginally more likely than those not experiencing any deprivations (i.e. those not in poverty) to consider all of items on the deprivation index essential.
Full details can be found in:
'Applying the consenusal method of estimating poverty in a low income country' (pdf), Shailen Nandy and Marco Pomati, Social Indicators Research(2015).
'L’approche consensuelle de mesure de la pauvreté : une application au cas du Bénin' (pdf), S. Nandy, M. Pomati and A. Lenoël1, STATECO N°110, 2016

Tweet this page