July 12, 2017

Survey of the Poor: Concept and 2017 Plan


Concept note and 2017 plan for the Survey of the Poor.

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The Survey of the Poor is an initiative aimed at annually surveying 20,000 people living in poverty across 10-countries housing most of the world’s ultra-poor population. It will provide perceptual, attitudinal and behavioural dimensions that can be analyzed with standard income and expenditure metrics to inform innovation in both programs and policies aimed at ending poverty. The countries include India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, DRC, South Africa, Bolivia, and Nicaragua.

Specifically, the research is aimed at identifying and measuring key challenges and felt-needs at different stages on the ‘ladder out of poverty,’ key intervention points and channels for programming and communication, as well as long-term tracking metrics on key targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (sanitation, water, etc.), gender issues, climate change, inequality, hope, education and training, and health, safety and security topics.



It has never been done. The World Bank’s decade-old “Voices of the Poor” qualitative study is the closest initiative that has addressed this need to deeply understand those living in poverty.

It needs to be done. Giving voice to people living in poverty will unlock many insights essential to designing new interventions and policies aimed at ending poverty.

It can be done. While the methodological challenges are numerous, there is much knowledge and practical experience among social science practitioners that are involved in the Survey of the Poor that can ensure success and deliver actionable insights to aid and development practitioners.

We can do it. As shown in our 2016 Pilot Survey of the Poor in India, the GlobeScan Foundation team can successfully conduct insightful survey research with the ultra-poor population in both urban and rural areas, and deliver policy-relevant analysis to decision-makers.



Building on two years of development and piloting in India, the first Survey of the Poor will be conducted across 5-10 countries (depending on funding) in late 2017, with findings communicated widely through the first half of 2018. 

The second and third annual Survey of the Poor will be conducted in late 2018 and 2019 across the same 10 countries, focusing on different aspects of poverty including the Global Goals, gender issues, climate change, education, and health care.

Following the third annual Survey of the Poor, the GlobeScan Foundation expects to be able to continue tracking key metrics through a syndicated Survey of the Poor study supported by global companies, multilateral agencies and civil society organizations (similar to GlobeScan’s syndicated 20-nation RADAR public opinion survey, conducted annually since 1997.)



The surveys will be mainly conducted using face-to-face interviewing by local people specially trained in data collection and supervised by respected research institutes in each country. Satellite imagery of the poorest areas of the countries surveyed will be used to select random sample points for interviewers.

The questionnaire includes some widely-used questions to measure objective and subjective wellbeing, as well as income, assets, and expenditures. This will enable analysis with other available data sets for maximum usefulness, while also enabling other researchers and practitioners to directly assimilate the behavioural and attitudinal dimensions, and advanced statistical analysis, uniquely available through the Survey of the Poor.

The initiative will continue as it was begun – as a collaboration involving a wide range of aid and development agencies, philanthropic foundations and over 20 social scientists convened over the last year by the GlobeScan Foundation.

Communication of research findings and their application to development programs and policies will be a key part of the initiative. Building on established relationships with the BBC World Service and The Economist, the GlobeScan Foundation will widely socialize the survey results through knowledgeable publics as well as directly to aid and development organizations worldwide.



The annual budget for the Survey of the Poor initiative – interviewing 20,000 people living in poverty across 10 countries and widely communicating the resulting insights – is US$2.4 million. This budget will be shared across six funders at US$400,000 per year each. Funders are being asked to commit to three years funding, to help ensure the broad use and sustainability of the Survey of the Poor.



The GlobeScan Foundation is dedicated to helping achieve a more sustainable and just world for all. To accomplish this, we develop and apply a range of social science tools to give voice to global publics, help unlock collaboration and accelerate progress.

We build on the global research capabilities of GlobeScan Incorporated (founded in 1987), including well-established working relationships with research institutes around the world. GlobeScan is best known for conducting the 20-country BBC World Service Poll on topical issues (annually since 2005), for its annual syndicated Radar public opinion research service across G20 countries, for its respected thought leadership on corporate social responsibility and sustainability, and for its balanced client list that includes major global companies (Unilever, Disney, IKEA), civil society organizations (Gates Foundation, ICRC, Amnesty), and multilateral agencies (IMF, ADB, WHO).

Established in 2012, the GlobeScan Foundation is a federally-incorporated not-for-profit private foundation based in Canada. Our president, Doug Miller, is a widely quoted global pollster (BBC, The Economist’s “World in 2016”), and author of “Can the World Be Wrong? Where global public opinion says we’re headed” (Greenleaf 2016).



For more information and background on the Survey of the Poor initiative, please visit the Survey of the Poor pages on our website, or contact:

Eric West, Foundation Development
GlobeScan Foundation

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
T: +1 519 370 0300

GlobeScan Foundation

The GlobeScan Foundation is dedicated to helping achieve a more sustainable and just world for all. To accomplish this we develop and apply a range of social science tools to give voice to global publics, help unlock collaboration and accelerate progress. Learn more here