Search for ‘consistent’ measure of poverty

Measures of material deprivation, rather than low income, are particularly effective in identifying individuals at risk of multiple forms of deprivation, according to a paper from the LSE's Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion.

The paper critically examines a proposal for a 'consistent poverty' measure (put forward by researchers in Dublin) in which low income and material deprivation are given an equal weight.

Key points

  • Drawing on data for both Britain and Europe, deprivation indicators are found to be 'particularly useful' in identifying people at risk of the sort of deprivation expected to be associated with material poverty. In other words, it is people's deprivation status – not their low income status – that makes the crucial difference in predicting their risk of multiple forms of deprivation.
  • When low income occurs alongside material deprivation, elevated rates of multiple deprivation are observed – but usually not to a significant degree compared with material deprivation alone.
  • The performance of material deprivation indicators is even more surprising since they currently fall 'far short' of the comprehensiveness of an income measure. The material deprivation measure is relatively rudimentary, whereas an income measure is constructed from numerous survey questions about household income, and for which enormous efforts are expended ensuring its robustness.
  • Further work is needed to test new items as possible material deprivation indicators, and to assess how both they and aggregate indices perform in statistical terms. But the promise of these indicators is such that additional work is 'both justified and required' in order to strengthen the measurement approach.

Source: Rod Hick, On 'Consistent' Poverty, CASEpaper 167, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (London School of Economics)
LinksPaper | Abstract
See also: Brian Nolan and Christopher Whelan, Poverty and Deprivation in Europe, Oxford University Press (2011)