To practice 6 – Ex Post Considerations on Vulnerability Measurement

After carrying out and attending several interviews, questions are arising in me about the vulnerability section. Vulnerability – considered in my study “the magnitude of the threat of future poverty” (Calvo and Dercon 2005, p.5) – is a complex concept, indeed enriching a poverty profile.


A man who was shot in an armed robbery 3 months ago, told me his level of worry for being assaulted in the future is very low, a woman who hasn’t been assaulted in the last 5 years, stated is extremely worried of being assaulted in the future.

Now, let’s put apart probabilistic calculations and think in a mere qualitative way, how do we compare their different levels of perceived vulnerability to assaults? Measuring the poverty ex-ante, a real challenge. Literature on this issue is warmly welcomed, I need a reliable vulnerability index…


9 responses to “To practice 6 – Ex Post Considerations on Vulnerability Measurement

  1. the man isn’t risk averse while the woman is. both have an underlying output (consumption, income, or any other welfare measure) distribution whose related probabilities to each event of that distribution are different. man’s distribution has lesser variance than woman’s. we’ll expect man’s vulnerability to be smaller than woman, but that differential is only explained by idiosyncratic issues. nothing you can do about it.
    suggestion: see how households’ welfare measure respond to shocks. did you ask about that, right? run a reg and then predict your preferred welfare measure based on such shocks.

  2. This is something very interesting, since in digital marketing we also have vulnerability to assaults, the assault here means technology crack, or unpredictable virus/hack throughout internet. Therefore, personally, I think the poverty ex ante is not that much reliable and objective, however, it would be good if use the data instead of measuring it, use it as a database for the preparation of predictable and unpredictable situation.
    I am totally an outsider, however very much keen on economic measuring methodology.
    Thanks for the post!

    • Thank you Iona! It is very inspiring have a parallelism on digital marketing functioning. Indeed, the concept is quite similar. The idea is that the risk of (robbery or digital) assault influences the agent’s choices ex ante, ISN’T IT?
      Thanks for the comment and your multidisciplinary attitude, actually very enriching!

  3. I don’t get the point. what’s your definition of vulnerability? Are these people poor/vulnerable because of their fear of being assaulted (subjective) or because of their actual probability of being assaulted (objective), or both? U could measure all the 3 dimensions in any case (a subjective assessment based on feelings, an objective assessment based on statistics about assaults, a weighted average of the 2…don’t ask me about the weights, that’s not my business 🙂
    to measure the perception of vulnerability u just need to ask: from 1 to 10, what’s your fear of being assaulted in the next 3 months? or something like that…

    • You got the point actually. The idea is seeking to measure the vulnerability to future poverty. This is measured both through past scenarios actually happened (allowing to estimate the probability of the events occurring) and the perceived fear (and its level) of the same scenario happening again. Moreover, one of the main issues is that economic individuals more vulnerable will invest in less risky activities. For example, a small agricultural producer who is highly vulnerable to harvest pests may tend to cultivate less profitable crops, in order to ensure ex ante against the risk of a bad harvest.
      On the other hand, my point was a maybe silly consideration on the fact that is pretty unreliable to think that my level of perceived vulnerability is comparable with yours. I appreciate the suggestion for the index, I will work on it: actually, I’ve done what you suggested me so far, measuring perceived (subjective) vulnerability to future events and the actual measure of the event happening in the past.
      Thank you for your analytical and critical though fellow!

  4. Sorry for being so late to the conversation. I would argue that it has to do with the perceived threat. Perhaps it could be though of as the man who was assaulted recently believes that since he was assaulted recently it is more unlikely that he will be assaulted in the near future. Similarly, the woman who has not been assaulted at all believes that the probability of her being assaulted in the near future is increasing. Thus, the probability of an attack rises until you are attacked (and so does the neurosis surrounding it) at which point the probability decreases for a while, but will slowly build up until the next attack.

    Whilst my idea sounds far fetched, I believe that I have a paper on the exact same idea on the probability of terrorist attacks. I will look for it when I get home and post the reference.

    • Thank you Hector, very interesting. In this case, paradoxically, the two individuals are responding in a rational way indeed, applying probability calculus to the event of a robbery occurring. Pretty charming point of view. I would appreciate the reference indeed!
      Have a nice day!

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