Assessing Refugee Poverty Using Capabilities Versus Commodities: The Case of Afghans in Iran
This study is among the first to calculate poverty among one of the world’s largest refugee populations, Afghans in Iran. More importantly, it is one of the first to use capability and monetary approaches to provide a comprehensive perspective on Afghan refugees’ poverty. We estimated poverty using data collected from a sample of 2,034 refugee households in 2011 in Iran. We utilized basic needs poverty lines and the World Bank’s absolute international poverty line for our monetary poverty analyses and the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for our capability analyses of poverty. Findings show that nearly half of the Afghan households were income-poor, approximately two percent of the households had less than USD 1.25 per person per day, and about 28% of the surveyed households were multidimensionally deprived. Results suggest that 60% of the income-poor households were not deprived from minimal education, health, and standards of living based on the MPI criteria, and about 32% of the multidimensionally deprived households were not income-poor. These findings call for more attention to poverty measurement methods, specifically for social workers and policy makers in the field, to gain a more realistic understanding about refugees’ wellbeing.
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