Asset indexes and the measurement of poverty, inequality and welfare in Southeast Asia

Joseph Deutsch, Jacques Silber, Guanghua Wan, Mengxue Zhao

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13 Scopus citations


Using data on household consumer durables from the Asian Barometer Survey, this paper examines the evolution of inequality, poverty and welfare in six countries of South East Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. We start by deriving the most common order of acquisition of these durables, using first an algorithm proposed by Paroush (1965), and then Item Response Theory. We also compute the frequency distribution of the number of durables owned by households. We then use these results to compute inequality, poverty and achievement or welfare indices adapted to the case of ordinal variables. Our empirical results confirm the existence of an order of acquisition. The results show that inequality was higher in Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines and lower in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. A similar classification of countries was obtained when computing multidimensional poverty indices. Finally, using the welfare or achievement index recently introduced by Apouey et al. (2019), we found that welfare was generally higher in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia and lower in Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101220
JournalJournal of Asian Economics
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s)


  • Achievement or welfare indices
  • Asset indices
  • Counting approach
  • Item response theory
  • Multidimensional poverty
  • Order of acquisition of durable goods
  • Ordinal inequality


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