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Developing a child-focused and multidimensional model of child poverty for South Africa

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This paper presents a new method of measuring child poverty in South Africa, based on a theoretically sound distinction between the conceptualization, definition, measurement, and enumeration of poverty. Conceptual frameworks, definitions, and measurements of poverty are briefly reviewed in the international and South African contexts. This paper presents a child-centered, multidimensional model of child poverty with both absolute and relative poverty components. The absolute core of this model follows the Copenhagen Declaration and includes basic needs such as food and shelter. This is complemented by a relative component, using a multidimensional conceptualization of poverty, and based on a child's ability to participate fully in South African society. The dimensions, or domains of deprivation, for both absolute core and relative aspects can be the same; eight exemplar domains are presented here. Located between the model's relative and absolute components and equally relevant to both components is found a ring of indicators relating to access to good-quality services. We argue that relative poverty can be defined both by consensually agreed upon necessities for societal inclusion and by research-delineated child needs. This approach, while presenting challenges for measurement, will provide policy makers with a better evidence base for combating child poverty.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-03-01

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