The Rev. Dr. Sabina Alkire directs the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), a research centre within the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford. She is perhaps best known for developing, along with James Foster, the ‘Alkire Foster Method’ for measuring multi-dimensional poverty. This was developed for the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report. The Alkire Foster Method identifies and measures ‘poverty’ and well-being by considering a range of deprivations that individuals experience, such as lack of education or employment, poor health or living standards. These ‘deprivation profiles’ are analysed and aggregated in order to produce an annual Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) that can be used by states and politicians to address a range of developmental issues in a given country or area.

She has been Oliver T. Carr Professor and Professor of Economics and International Affairs at George Washington University, Research Associate at Global Equity Initiative (Harvard University), and Researcher for the Commission on Human Security at the United Nations, chaired by Amartya Sen. A Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, she earned the DPhil in Economics, M.Sc in Economics, and MPhil in Christian Political Ethics. She is an Anglican priest attached to a local Oxford parish.

Her research interests and publications include multidimensional poverty measurement and analysis, welfare economics, Amartya Sen’s capability approach, the measurement of freedoms, and human development.



Mary Louis


Select Publications

Multidimensional Poverty Measurement and Analysis (Oxford University Press, 2015), co-edited with James Foster, Suman Seth, Maria Emma Santos, José Manuel Roche, and Paola Ballon.

The Capability Approach: Concepts, Measures and Applications, co-edited with Flavio Comim and Mozaffar Qizilbash. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Valuing Freedoms: Sen’s Capability Approach and Poverty Reduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

“The capability approach and well-being measurement for public policy.” In M. D. Adler and M. Fleurbaey (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Multidimensional Poverty in Pakistan, with researchers of Pakistan Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, OPHI and UNDP. Report. MPDR of Pakistan, OPHI and UNDP, 2016.

Child Poverty in Bhutan: Insights from Multidimensional Child Poverty Index and Qualitative Interviews with Poor Children, with Lham Dorji, Sonam Gyeltshen, and Thomas Minten, T. National Statistics Bureau, Monograph Series 9. Bhutan, 2016.

Multidimensional Poverty Assessment in IDB Sub-Saharan African Member Countries, with Savas Alpay, John Hammock, J., Abdullateef Bello, Gisela Robles Aguilar, and Bouba Housseini. Report for Economic Research and Policy Department, Islamic Development Bank, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 2016.

“Measuring Women’s Autonomy in Chad Using the Relative Autonomy Index,” with A. Vaz and P. Pratley. Feminist Economics, 2015.

“Multidimensional Poverty Reduction in India between 1999 and 2006: Where and How?,” with Suman Seth. World Development 72 (2015) 93-108.

“Identifying the Poorest People and Groups: Strategies Using the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index,” with Jose Manuel Roche, Suman Seth and Andy Sumner.  Journal of International Development 27 (2015), 362-387

“Measuring Acute Poverty in the Developing World: Robustness and Scope of the Multidimensional Poverty Index,” with Maria Emma Santos. World Development 59 (2014) 251-274

“Measuring Acute Poverty in the Developing World: Robustness and Scope of the Multidimensional Poverty Index,” with Maria Emma Santos. Published in World Development 59 (2014) 251-274

“The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index“, with Ruth Meinzen-Dick, Amber Peterman, Agnes R. Quisumbing, Greg Seymour and Ana Vaz. Published in World Development 52 (2013) 71-91.

“Beyond Headcount: The Alkire-Foster Approach to Multidimensional Child Poverty Measurement,” with José Manuel Roche in Ortiz, Moreira Daniels and Engilbertsdottir eds, Child Poverty and Inequality: New Perspectives, p 18-22. (New York: UNICEF, 2012).

“Development: A Misconceived Theory Can Kill,” in Morris, Christopher W. Amartya Sen: Contemporary Philosophy in Focus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

“Instrumental Freedoms and Human Capabilities.” In: S. L. Esquith and F. Gifford (eds.) Capabilities, Power, and Institutions (The Pennsylvanian State University Press, 2010).

“The Capability Approach as a Development Paradigm,” in Chiappero-Martinetti, Enrica ed., Debating Global Society: Reach and Limits of the Capability Approach. (Milan: Feltrinelli Foundation, 2009).

“The Human Development and Capability Approach,” with Séverine Deneulin, in Deneulin, Séverine and Lila Shahani eds, An Introduction to the Human Development and Capability Approach: Freedom and Agency, p 22-48. (UK, USA and Canada: Earthscan and International Development Research Centre, 2009).

The Capability Approach: Concepts, Measures and Applications, co-edited with Flavio Comim and Mozaffar Qizilbash, eds. (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

“Choosing Dimensions: The Capability Approach and Multidimensional Poverty” in Kakwani, Nanak and Jaques Silber, Eds. The Many Dimensions of Poverty. Palgrave-MacMillan, 2008).

“Why the Capability Approach?” Journal of Human Development. March 2005.


Academic Journeys


Academic Journey


Thinking About Poverty


Discovering 'Voices of the Poor'



Faith & Scholarship


How did you come to be ordained in the Anglican Church?


How does your academic work relate to your work as an ordained minister?


What rhythms and routines sustain you in your life and work?


Life in the Church 1/2


Life in the Church 2/2



Scholarly Research


What is the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI)?


How did OPHI begin?


What is the Capability Approach to development?


What is the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index?


How has the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index changed how we respond to ‘poverty’?


What can policy makers learn from places where poverty has been reduced?


Engaging Policy Makers

The 'missing dimensions' of Development


What Can One Person Do?



Academic Advice


What are the working dynamics of your team like?