, Volume 112, Issue 1, pp 129-149
Date: 07 Jul 2012

Mapping Patterns of Multiple Deprivation and Well-Being using Self-Organizing Maps: An Application to Swiss Household Panel Data

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The aim of this paper is to propose multidimensional measures of deprivation and wellbeing in contemporary Switzerland, in order to overcome the limitations of standard approaches. More precisely, we have developed self organising maps (SOM) using data drawn from the 2009 Swiss Household Panel wave, in order to identify highly homogeneous clusters of individuals characterized by distinct profiles across 44 indicators of deprivation and well-being. SOM is a vector quantiser that performs a topology-preserving mapping of the k-dimensional input data to a two-dimensional, rectangular grid of output units, preserving as much as possible the information contained in the original input data. “Topology-preserving” means that, when an SOM is properly developed, units that are close in the output space are also close in the input space. Our results suggest that the SOM approach could improve our understanding of complex and multidimensional phenomena, like those of well-being, deprivation, vulnerability, that show only a partial overlapping with standard income poverty measures.