Measuring hunger

In the process of catching up on stuff from the World Bank, I came across another ill-conceived paper, published in January:  The challenge of measuring hunger.  Different methods of measurement, the authors complain, yield radically different results:  “In our survey experiment, we calculate hunger to range between 19 and 68 percent”.  Perhaps they might have worked out from this that there is something fundamentally wrong with the approach they’re taking.  It’s more than fifty years since the indicators movement first argued that we had to stop thinking about social issues in terms of single, accurate, precise measures.  What we need are indicators, pointers or signposts – multiple sources of evidence where we look for direction, reinforcement and corroboration, rather than authoritative answers in tablets of stone.  Anything else is doomed to failure.

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