ZiF Summer School 2017

A Fuzzy Set Approach to Multidimensional Poverty Measurement

1 - 8 August 2017
Convenors: Ullrich Bauer (Bielefeld, GER), Zoë Clark (Hamburg, GER), Hans-Uwe Otto (Bielefeld, GER), Antoanneta Potsi (Bielefeld, GER)

In the beginning of August 2017 18 early career scholars from Africa, America and Europe met at ZiF for an intensive Summer School training on the use of the Fuzzy Set Approach for poverty measurement. This is a cutting-edge approach able to address adequately complex questions of poverty, deprivation and well-being as multidimensional living conditions.

How poverty is conceptualized, researched and measured plays a major role on the various understandings of poverty, poverty research and poverty alleviation. The predominant models of relative and absolute poverty draw a poverty line that is a threshold between 'the poor' and 'the non-poor' on the basis of a monetary variable. Within this dichotomous monetary definition, cases must be classified as either the one or the other, with nothing in between. A poverty approach that focuses only on a monetary variable falls short on capturing other valuable dimensions that influence poverty and well-being and is unable to grasp and appreciate the hardships facing individuals living in vulnerable conditions. Moreover, it is inadequate of handling the vagueness of cases and is unable to perceive and describe conceptual and actual gradual differences between 'the poor' and 'the non-poor'. In contrast, the Fuzzy Set Approach to poverty analysis presumes that poverty is a matter of degree. In other words, the Fuzzy Set Approach deals with sets or categories whose boundaries are blurry or, in other words, 'fuzzy' and brings categorical concepts into the dimensional realm. It goes beyond categorizing people as either 'poor' or non-poor', but instead broadens the scope by taking also those into consideration who, based on their individual level of welfare, cannot clearly be defined as belonging to one or the other group. Thus, the Fuzzy Set Approach is able to resolve binary classification of the two groups under and above the poverty line, but offers alternative ways to analyze the gradual membership to the group of 'the poor'. This gradual perspective on poverty gains particular significance especially when, apart from monetary poverty measurement, multi-dimensional poverty approaches, such as deprivation indexes is taken into account. This kind of measurement can be applied for poverty measurements within one country, for cross-country comparisons, for cross-sectional as well as for longitudinal data. Therefore, the Fuzzy Set Approach overcomes the dichotomy and includes a concept of vagueness and a measurement of gradual poverty, thus it is very useful for describing the multifaceted nature of poverty.

Achille Lemmi, Antonella D'Agostino, Laura Neri and Andrea Regoli, and within a length of 8-days duration an amalgam of lectures, discussions and hands-on exercises on poverty research and fuzzy poverty measurement was offered. The most fertile part of the Summer School was the section, where early career researchers had the opportunity to present their own project within the field of poverty research and discuss it with international experts and peers; a process beneficial for both early and advanced career researchers as it enabled a zymosis of new ways applying the Fuzzy Set Approach.


Olumide Adisa (Ipswich, GBR), Thomas Augustin (München GER), Antonella D'Agostino (Neapel, ITA), José Espinoza-Delgado (Göttingen, GER), Marion Fischer-Neumann (Hamburg, GER), Pablo Garcés (Den Haag, NED), Olaf Groh-Samberg (Bremen, GER), Alban Knecht (Linz, AUT), Khaufelo R. Lekobane (Gaborone, BOT), Achille Lemmi (Siena, ITA), Tagesse Melketo (Wolayta Sodo, ETH), Michail Moatsos (Utrecht, NED), Laura Neri (Siena, ITA), Fotios Papageorgiou (Bielefeld, GER), Atika Pasha (Göttingen, GER), Andrea Regoli (Neapel, ITA), Olaf Schoffer (Dreden, GER), Tegegn Shumbulo Hailu (Wolayta Sodo, ETH), Lars Tschiersch (Wien, AUT), Mehmet Sedat Ugur (Cankiri, TUR), Rosita Woodly-Sobhie (Paramaribo, SUR), Holger Ziegler (Bielefeld, GER)

Please direct questions concerning the organisation of the workshop to Trixi Valentin at the Conference Office. Questions regarding scientific content and contributions should be directed to the organizers.

Tel: +49 521 106-2769
Fax: +49 521 106-152769
E-Mail: trixi.valentin@uni-bielefeld.de