The Political within the De-Politicised. Poverty Measurement and Implicit Agendas in the MDGs
Despite the façade of precise estimates, we do not really know what has been happening to global poverty, all things considered. Despite the façade of moral consensus, we are not even certain whether the MDGs are leading us in the most appropriate policy directions to address poverty. Part of the problem lies in the fact that international and even national measurements of poverty are contentious, even in the best of cases such as China and India. The contentions relate not only to issues of methodology but also to the broader use of thresholds and the implicit agenda of targeting that their use encourages, which is the other part of the problem. Hence, the ethical focus on poverty within the MDGs has not transcended politics. To the contrary, the MDGs are problematic precisely because they depict policy choices that are actually very political as apolitical, thereby removing these choices from public deliberation in the name of moral urgency and expediency. Such predicaments are not necessarily resolved by multidimensional poverty measures for two reasons: they add even more opacity than money-metric measures, and the way they have been operationalised has tended to reinforce the use of thresholds and means-testing. Nor are these tensions necessarily resolved by human-rights- based approaches,' which face similar ambiguities as the MDGs given that they can be construed in support of targeting agendas.
Fischer, A.M. (2013). The Political within the De-Politicised. Poverty Measurement and Implicit Agendas in the MDGs. In M. Langford, A. Sumner, A. E. Yamin (eds), Harvard UniversityThe Millennium Development Goals and Human Rights: Past, Present and Future. Cambridge University Press 2013 (pp. 119–142). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/50253