Comparing poverty exposure in Europe

Some 'encouraging' results have been reported from attempts to compare people's exposure to poverty across different European countries, says a paper from Eurostat, the European Commission's statistical body.

The paper describes methodological work aimed at matching expenditure data (from the Household Budget Survey – HBS) with income and material deprivation data (from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions – EU-SILC). It attempts to do this using 2005 data for the UK.

Key findings

  • No single data source provides joint information on all the variables considered – income, expenditure and material deprivation. The task is therefore to find statistical ways of matching the data available.
  • Three matching approaches were used – parametric, non-parametric and mixed.
  • Overall, the mixed methods approach tended to perform slightly better than the others. Under this, a model is first fitted to the data to estimate an intermediate value of the variable to be matched. Then a distance function is used to locate a range of possible observations from the donor set that most closely resembles the intermediate value, with a value for imputation selected from that set.
  • The outcomes of this initial statistical matching of EU-SILC and the HBS were 'encouraging'. However, the operation was limited by the availability of suitable matching variables, because data for the 2005 dataset is only at the household level.
  • The next stage of the project will therefore move to using 2010 EU-SILC and HBS data in order to make use of the additional variables available in the 2010 HBS. This statistical matching will be carried out for a number of EU countries.

The authors conclude by recommending that consideration be given in future to including a nucleus of variables within the EU-SILC that could be used as ‘hooks’ to improve the potential quality of matching between it and other data sources.

: Dominic Webber and Richard Tonkin, Statistical Matching of EU-SILC and the Household Budget Survey to Compare Poverty Estimates Using Income, Expenditures and Material Deprivation: 2013 Edition, Eurostat (European Union)
LinkWorking paper

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