About PATs

What do the USAID PATs look like?

Surveys are created in an MS Excel spreadsheet, and the data entry templates are created in either the Epi Info or CSPro software. All tools and templates are posted on this website. As additional tools are developed, they will be added here as well.

How do the PATs measure poverty? How do the PATs define "poverty"?

USAID Poverty Assessment Tools (PATs) define poverty in absolute terms, using national or international poverty lines, depending on the country in question.  Each PAT includes a minimum of two poverty lines: either:

-- The national and median national poverty lines for a given country, OR
-- The international $2.50 and $1.25 per day lines

For reporting purposes, we consider those living below the median national or $1.25 per day line to be “very poor.” Those living under the national poverty line or $2.50 per day line are considered “poor.”

When determining which set of lines (national or international) to use for a specific country’s PAT, the tool development team compares the value of the lines for that country and selects the one that is HIGHER.

Most PATs include more than these two standard poverty lines for comparison. See the PAT page for a specific country for a list of other poverty lines included for analysis.

More information on poverty lines can be found on this page: Poverty Lines.

Can one country’s PAT be used in a nearby country if no PAT is available?

No. Because PATs are developed from nationally representative data, they cannot be applied in other countries, even if the countries share similar social, political and/or economic characteristics.   For comparison, try looking at two existing PAT surveys from countries that you believe to be similar.  They will like have some questions in common but many differences as well.

Why do some indicators seem irrelevant in the areas where they must be asked?

Because each tool contains at least fifteen different indicators developed from nationally representative samples, it will often be the case that some of the indicators are not applicable in each part of the country. For example, the Uganda tool contains a question asking, “During the last seven days, for how many days was large fish served in a main meal eaten by the household?” It may seem irrelevant to ask whether a household ate large fish in areas of Uganda where even the wealthy do not eat large fish. If the goal of PAT development were to develop a standardized tool to assess poverty within such a region, such as Northern Uganda, the large fish question would almost certainly disappear as one of the best fifteen indicators for predicting poverty: it would fail to distinguish the “very poor” from the “not very poor” within Northern Uganda. However, this would still encourage the correct poverty prediction: the absence of large fish is associated with extreme poverty. The consumption of large fish has been found to be good indicator to separate “very poor” from “not very poor” for Uganda as a whole, and therefore contributes to the goal of the tool, which is national-level poverty assessment.

Can indicators be adapted or replaced?

No. One way to think of this issue is to consider how a cake is made. A cake recipe consists of a particular combination of ingredients, none of which you would want to eat alone. You would not eat flour alone, nor baking soda, nor butter, etc., but you would happily consume the product of their combination using a good recipe. A PAT is made and used the same way: none of the indicators in the tool necessarily serves as a good indicator of extreme poverty on its own, but the identified set of indicators, properly combined, gives the desired result. Also, one must be careful with substitutions when baking a cake: adding something similar in color and texture instead of the required ingredient can yield unsavory, or even comic, results. The same principle holds for the quantities used of an ingredient. Similarly, the PAT poverty calculation is sensitive to substitutions among indicators used and changes in their units.


The information provided on this web site is not official U.S. government information and does not
represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.