Towards a gendered poverty measurement in Mexico
OROZCO-CORONA, MONICA E (2016). 'Towards a gendered poverty measurement in Mexico' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.
Mexico has an official multidimensional poverty measurement based on relevant conceptual and methodological approaches. Its technical strengths and its conceptual support allow abound in the exploration of theoretical approaches about gender and women’s poverty. An approach of this kind can contribute to improve the poverty measurement, incorporating critical aspects to reflect progress on development of capabilities and the exercise of human rights of the population with a gender perspective.
Although there is a vast literature compilation on women´s poverty at international level, progress on gender and poverty measurement are emerging. This research uses the conceptual approaches of gender literature concerning the sexual division of labor, care economy and unequal power relations between sexes. The theoretical development in these themes and their relationship with the capabilities approach proposed by Amartya Sen provide elements to build an inclusive measurement that considers restrictions on people´s skill sets, particularly women, which generate limitations from the standpoint of freedom and distributive justice principles.
In addition to the official poverty measurement in Mexico, this proposal in analyzes three multidimensional measurements based on institutional proposals. These approaches deserve special attention since they are calculated for several countries, including Mexico, and / or bring new knowledge to the study and measurement of poverty. Among them are the measurement of Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), the first multidimensional international measurement; the measurement of the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College (Levy Institute), which incorporates a poverty of time indicator; and the multidimensional measurement of the Economic Commission for Latina America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Along with legal and technical criteria to be considered in a multidimensional measurement sensitive to inequalities between women and men, six basic criteria on gender are outlined:
meeting the provisions of the regulatory framework on women´s human rights, in accordance with Article 1 of the Constitution;
adopting human rights conventions when legal provisions are discriminatory from a gender perspective;
incorporating dimensions in which gender gaps exist that impede the exercise of human rights of women;
identifying indicators related to gender gaps and compute them on the principle of gender equality, preventing adopting bias in the allocation of social roles for men and women;
using individual-level and disaggregated information by sex, both in accounting for social deprivations as well as in the poverty estimations; and,
adopting technically rigorous methodologies for the production of information needed to capture the missing dimensions, both from new data, as the construction or transformation of already available.
The gender dimension proposed in this paper is based on indicators related to women´s economic empowerment and barriers to their participation in the labor force. Three indicators are considered to account for social deprivations: labor participation, quality of employment (decent work) and access to care services.
The proposal innovates with respect to the existing literature in several ways, considering the signs of the literature on gender in relation to economic empowerment of women:
i. labor force participation is measured individually and disaggregated by sex contrary to other multidimensional measurements of poverty, as the ones used by CEPAL (2014)and Santos et.al. (2015), which aggregate data at household level. In addition to the traditional indicators of unemployment, it considers non-economically active population (PNEA) to reflect the inequalities generated by the sexual division of labor (Sen 2001; Nussbaum 2000).
ii. employment quality indicators are incorporated in a multidimensional measurement, based on decent work indexes developed by Ortega (2013) and OIT (2013)
iii. access to child care services is used as a proxy for social co-responsibility policies between work and familiar life.2 This indicator is based on the capability approach and intrinsic freedoms, considering that the absence of care policies for redistribution loads of unpaid work represents a loss of choice for women, that is, a limitation of their freedom that affects their functions or their possibilities to enter the labor market.
iv. uses the official data source to measuring poverty, Socioeconomic Conditions Module (MCS,2014) of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) and the official methodology of CONEVAL are used for the empirical evaluation of the proposal.
For every aspect of the proposed dimension, their strengths, weaknesses and information requirement are analyzed in order to advance towards a technically sound and inclusive measurement. The results obtained show large gender gaps in social deficits included, mainly in relation with labor participation, where scarcity reflects a gender relationship of 3: 1.
Although an increase in the incidence of poverty is expected when there is an increase in the number of dimensions considered in the measurement without altering the threshold of social deprivation, the central aspect of including a gender perspective is reflected in the gender gap in the incidence of poverty. Under different scenarios, gender gap is increased from three to ten times in magnitude when considering gender dimensions that reflect inequalities between women and men regarding work and care.
Overall, the indicators used reflect a potential increase of 4.5 percentage points in the multidimensional poverty at the national level, considering the official threshold of social deprivation. Unbundling results by sex leads to an increase from 46% to 50% in the poverty of men and from 46.3% to 51.3% of women´s poverty compared with the official measure.