Material deprivation in EU – alternative measure

An alternative 13-item indicator produces a more accurate measurement of material deprivation in the European Union than the existing one, according to a paper by researchers from the Centre for Social Policy at Antwerp University.

The paper considers the new indicator's potential impact on the size of the population deemed to be deprived, the socio-demographic characteristics of this population and the Europe 2020 social inclusion target.

Key points

  • Compared with the existing (nine-item) indicator, the alternative approach adds a group of people who have a large number of deprivations, encompassing 'basic' and 'social' items. It 'drops' a group of people who have a high probability of suffering from a small number of deprivations and who are not severely deprived.
  • In terms of their characteristics and exposure to other risks, those added and those dropped are quite similar. All in all, those identified by both the existing and alternative indicators are those who are most vulnerable – that is, they are more likely to suffer from other risks (low income, bad health, low work intensity, difficulties in making ends meet, etc.) and are proportionally more numerous among lone parents, migrants and low-educated people.
  • The impact of the definition change on the proportion of people deprived (standard definition) or severely deprived is small at the EU level, but varies across countries. As six items are common to both indicators, the incidence of the seven 'new' items, the probability of cumulating them and also the way they interact with the 'old' six items influence considerably the differences between the two indicators.
  • The total proportion of people at EU level who are categorised as severely deprived is 23.1 per cent according to the existing indicator and 23.7 per cent according to the alternative one. At the country level, the alternative indicator increases the proportion by more than 2 percentage points in Portugal, Hungary and Romania.
  • The seven additional items needed for calculating the alternative indicator will be collected in the 2013 wave of EU-SILC, which should then allow for additional change over time analysis to be finalised by early 2015 - in time for the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Source: Anne-Catherine Guio and Eric Marlier, Alternative vs. Current Measures of Material Deprivation at EU Level: What Differences Does It Make?, ImPRovE Discussion Paper 13/07, Centre for Social Policy (Antwerp University)

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