In 2014/15, a new suite of questions were included in the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey to allow the deprivation approach to measure poverty to be applied. The sample covered 9,538 households, a fully enumerated sample of 23,107 and responding adult sample of 17,512.
In this survey, respondents were asked from a range of items covering all aspects of life, which items were essential for living in Australia today, which they had or not and for those they didn’t have whether this was because they couldn’t afford it. The table below shows the percentages regarding each item as essential and for those items seen by a majority as essential, the percentages who lack the item because they couldn’t afford it. the table is sortable by columns.
In ‘Mapping the Australian Poverty Profile: A Multidimensional Deprivation Approach’, Peter Saunders and Yuvisthi Naidoo analyse this data to find an overall measure of deprivation poverty. Overall, they found 10.7% of the population was in deprivation poverty. This overall figure is very similar to the 10.5% in income poverty based on 50% of median income. However, they found that different groups are identified as in poverty using deprivation measures than are found using low income measures. In particular, deprivation poverty shows higher rates the income poverty for all age groups up to the age of 54 while the deprivation rates are lower than the income rates for those older than 54. They conclude:
It is apparent that low income does not always automatically imply that poverty exists, and that a higher income may not guarantee that it does not. The deprivation approach embodies community views about the meaning of poverty that when translated into concrete measures reveal that factors other than income are important in determining whether or not people can achieve an acceptable standard of living, as judged by their peers in the community. This analysis represents a first step in highlighting how different measures of poverty impact on the overall severity of the problem and on the relative positioning of different groups. These differences provide an initial clue to the underlying causal factors and have potentially important policy implications. One important conclusion is that it would be unwise to rely on a single measure like the income poverty rate when the evidence shows so clearly that alternative measures produce different results—at least for some groups. Sensitivity analysis using different poverty lines can improve our understanding but does not address the basic issue that income alone is a limited metric for studying poverty. (‘Mapping the Australian Poverty Profile: A Multidimensional Deprivation Approach’, Peter Saunders and Yuvisthi Naidoo ).
Saunders and Naidoo also look at the difference in the percentages lacking an item between those who lack it because they say they can’t afford it (‘derived deprivation’) and those who lack an item whether they say they can afford it or not and who also see the item as essential when asked about whether the item is a necessity (inferred deprivation’). They found small differences between the derived and inferred deprivation rates for 12 out of the 22 items where the percentages lacking the item were low (under 3%). There were larger difference when the both the derived and inferred rates were higher, suggesting ‘ suggesting that ‘the response to the affordability question does exert an influence on measured deprivation, possibly due to the nature of the items themselves making it harder for people to differentiate between choice and constraint’.
For full details see: ‘Mapping the Australian Poverty Profile: A Multidimensional Deprivation Approach
’, Peter Saunders and Yuvisthi Naidoo, The Australian Economic Review, vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 336–50; DOI: 10.1111/1467-8462.12266
. Not open access
The paper reported on research in Australia into perceptions of necessities and lack of necessities.
In 2010, essential items covered:
- Warm clothes and bedding, if it’s cold
- Medical treatment if needed
- Able to buy medicines prescribed by a doctor
- A substantial meal at least once a day
- Dental treatment if needed
- A decent and secure home
- Children can participate in school activities and outings
- A yearly dental check-up for children
- A hobby or leisure activity for children
- Up-to-date schoolbooks and new school clothes
- A roof and gutters that do not leak
- Secure locks on doors and windows
- Regular social contact with other people
- Furniture in reasonable condition
- Heating in at least one room of the house
- Up to $500 in savings for an emergency
- A separate bed for each child
- A washing machine
- Home contents insurance
- Presents for family or friends at least once a year
- Computer skills
- Comprehensive motor vehicle insurance
- A telephone
- A week’s holiday away from home each year