Spatial and temporal analyses of household poverty in ghana and kenya

Kofinti, Raymond Elikplim; Annim, Samuel Kobina (2018). 'Spatial and Temporal Analyses of Household Poverty in Ghana and Kenya' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.



 This study assesses non-monetary multidimensional poverty in Ghana and Kenya to obtain the veracity of the reported trends and patterns. This study employed the First Order Dominance (FOD) methodology in five household basic capabilities: access to safe water, access to improved sanitation, access to shelter, access to education and information using comparable datasets, the Demographic Health Surveys (DHS) in Ghana and Kenya for the years 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2014. In the case of Ghana, the temporal FOD comparisons provide robust evidence for broad-based advance in welfare across the entire country which is partly consistent with the significant decline in consumption expenditure poverty between 1991 and 2013. In Kenya, evidence of advance in welfare are much more muted alluding towards weak gains overtime. The spatial FOD comparisons revealed gaping rural-urban and regional differences in net-dominance across both countries. The study recommends consistent non-monetary poverty appraisals in both countries to complement the money-metric approaches as they point to social amenities with worst levels of deprivation. 


This study is against the backdrop that the main poverty assessment in Ghana and Kenya overtime has been in money- metric measures from the perspectives of incidence and absolute poverty. In this vein,  Ghana has chalked significant poverty reduction in the past two decades, however poverty levels in the three Northern regions are still profound, and five out of the ten administrative regions of the country namely, Volta (33.8%), Brong Ahafo (27.8%), Northern (50.4%), Upper East (44.4%) and Upper West (70.7%) have poverty levels more than the national average of 24.2 per cent (Ghana Statistical Service, 2013).Meanwhile, Kenya represents the country with the highest increase in poverty levels of 28.4 percent among 30 African countries as depicted by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) data in the 2015 Millenuim Development Goal (MDG) report. Given that poverty reduction has been a major goal of the government of Kenya since independence (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), 2007), this is far from the desired condition for the country.

Premised on the foregoing and, coupled with the consensus that poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon ( Sen, 1976; Alkire and Foster, 2007, 2011) this study assesses the temporal and spatial analyses of household poverty in Ghana and Kenya using the last five rounds of the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) spanning from 1993 to 2014. This study ascertains whether non-monetary poverty appraisal in both countries using the First Order Dominance (FOD) approach are consistent with the situation of the money-metric measures in both countries

The general objective of the study is to assess the inter-temporal distribution of deprivation poverty across Ghana and Kenya, and compare outcomes in the respective countries. Specifically, the study addresses the following; (1) examine the gains in welfare over time in Ghana and Kenya; (2) Assess the spatial distribution of household deprivation poverty in Ghana and Kenya.


Review of Related Literature

The last decade has witnessed a proliferation of empirical studies on multidimensional household poverty across the globe (Sen 1976, 1985a, 1990,  2000; Alkire & Foster, 2011; Arndt et  al., 2012).  In the context of Ghana, Kofinti and Annim (2016) applied the FOD approach to access the deprivation of children over time using the Ghana Living Standards Surveys (GLSS) for the 2006 and 2013 survey years. With the unit of analysis of the study being children aged 7 to17 years, this study has less bearing on household poverty. In addition, GSS (2010) measured non-monetary household poverty using the 2010 Population and Housing Census data deploying the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) methodology. Though this study was very essential to the multi-dimensional poverty discourse of Ghana, the analyses was static without lending itself to comparisons across time. In the context of Kenya, Wambugu et. al (2010) also used the MPI to assess the multi-dimensional wellbeing of children and women in Kenya. Unlike the current study which focuses on the household as its unit of analyses and considered the last five rounds of the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS), this study focused on women and children as its unit of analyses, and deployed only the 1993 and the 2003 surveys.



The methodology follows the FOD approach operationalized by Arndt et al. (2012). The multi-dimensional FOD  was  developed based on the earlier  works of  (Lehmann 1955; Strassen 1965).This study chooses  five main dimensions of  household basic capabilities: access to safe water, access to improved sanitation, access to shelter, access to education and information using comparable datasets, the Demographic and  Health Surveys (DHS) in Ghana and Kenya for the years 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2014.

Data Sources

The principal data source for this study is the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHSs). DHS are nationally-representative household surveys that provide data on a wide range of monitoring and impact evaluation indicators in the areas of population, health, and nutrition. In Ghana and Kenya, the last five rounds of the Ghana Demographic and Health Surveys for the periods   1993, 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2014 will be used for the study.




Arndt, Channing, Roberta Distante, M. Azhar Hussain, Lars Peter Østerdal, Pham Lan Huong, and Maimuna Ibraimo. 2012. “Ordinal Welfare Comparisons with Multiple Discrete Indicators: A First Order Dominance Approach and Application to Child Poverty.” World Development 40 (11): 2290–2301.

Kabubo-Mariara, J., Wambugu, A., & Musau, S. (2011). Multdimensional Poverty in Kenya: Analysis of Maternal and Child Wellbeing.

Kofinti, R. E., & Annim, S. K. (2016). Child deprivation and income poverty in Ghana. Measuring Poverty and Wellbeing in Developing Countries, 178.

 Lehmann, E. L. (1955). Ordered families of distributions. The Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 399-419.

MDG Report 2015: “Assessing Progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals”. Retrieved from

Sen, Amartya, and others. 1993. “Capability and Well-Being”.  Retrieved from

Sen, Amartya. 1976. “Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement.” Econometrica: Journal of the Econometric Society, 219–23

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