Social scientists have increasingly used asset‐based wealth scores, like the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) wealth index, to assess economic disparities. However, current indices primarily capture wealth in globalized market economies, thus ignoring other forms of prosperity, such as success in agricultural activities. Using a simple extension to the standard estimation of the DHS wealth index, we describe procedures for estimating an agricultural wealth index (AWI) that complements market‐based wealth indices by capturing household success in agricultural activities. We apply this procedure to household data from 129 DHS surveys from over 40 countries with sufficient land and livestock data to estimate a reliable and consistent AWI. We assess the construct validity of the AWI using benchmarks of growth in both adults and children. This alternative measure of wealth provides new opportunities for understanding the causes and consequences of wealth inequality, and how success along different dimensions of wealth creates different social opportunities and constraints for health and well‐being.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.