The Disadvantaged Among the Dutch: A Survey Approach to the Multidimensional Measurement of Social Exclusion

Abstract

While combating social exclusion has been a key target of the European Union’s social policy in recent years, the concept remains contested and various ways of measuring its prevalence have been proposed. In the Netherlands a survey-based method has been in use since 2004, which refers to four theoretical elements of social exclusion: material deprivation, limited social participation, inadequate access to basic social rights and a lack of normative integration. In this article we propose an improved and more concise version of the instrument. Using focus groups and cognitive tests, the study first examined whether it adequately covers the different elements of social exclusion. Based on the results, the existing items were reformulated and supplemented. A revised questionnaire was then submitted to a new stratified sample of 650 respondents, randomly drawn from an online panel and a database of people without access to the Internet. The weighted outcomes may be regarded as representative for the entire adult Dutch population, although some caveats apply. Using nonlinear canonical correlation analysis, we identified a single underlying dimension in our new data set. This contains 15 items, with three to four indicators for each of the theoretical elements of social exclusion. According to our general index, just under 5 % of the Dutch population aged 18 years or older are faced with a serious degree of social exclusion. On the four subscales the figure ranges from 7 % (social rights) to 22 % (material deprivation).

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    In its ‘Vienna Declaration’, the World Conference on Human Rights (1993) stated that ‘extreme poverty and social exclusion constitute a violation of human dignity’. The Council of Europe (1998) went a step further, in recommending that ‘social exclusion not only offends against human dignity and denies people their fundamental human rights; it also leads […] to phenomena of marginalization, withdrawal or violent reactions, thereby creating conditions which undermine the democratic foundations of our societies’. From this legalistic perspective – which has strong moral appeal – affirmative action has been propagated, in order to safeguard the rights of political refugees, migrant workers, indigenous people, ethnic minorities, women, children, disabled persons, homosexuals, transgender people, etc. To some extent the international human rights movement has been successful in achieving this goal, as shown by the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006).

  2. 2.

    Poverty can therefore best be assessed by comparing disposable income and other resources to budget standards set by experts and consensual methods (Walker 1987; Bradshaw 1993; Bradshaw et al. 2008; Bradshaw and Mayhew 2011). For the Netherlands this method has been elaborated in various studies (Soede and Vrooman 2008; Vrooman 2009; Hoff et al. 2010) and is used to monitor poverty on an annual basis (CBS/SCP 2011).

  3. 3.

    It should be noted that the actual policy objectives of EU countries with regard to these main indicators are rather diverse (EC 2011a). This is because each member state is free to translate the general Europe 2020 goal into specific targets, taking national circumstances and priorities into account. As a result, some countries have confined their aims to reducing or stabilizing the relative poverty risk (e.g. Estonia, Czech Republic), while others wish to reduce the number of people in jobless households (e.g. the Netherlands); and in several cases particularistic national goals have been set (e.g. Sweden, which pursues a falling share of long-term unemployed people, those on long-term sick leave, and those outside the labour force).

  4. 4.

    The original report on this project was published in Dutch (Hoff and Vrooman 2011).

  5. 5.

    The weighting variables are age, gender, ethnic origin, level of education, household size, region, gross annual income (four classes) and Internet access.

  6. 6.

    The canonical correlation is computed using the following formula: rd = ((K × Ed) − 1)/(K − 1), where d is the latent dimension (1), K is the number of sets (4), and E is the eigenvalue (0.53).

  7. 7.

    In the EU approach, a person is regarded as materially deprived when he or she cannot afford four out of nine consumer durables. However, three of these are goods which are present in virtually every Western European household: a colour TV, a telephone and a washing machine. In order to be classified as materially deprived, respondents in the more prosperous societies must therefore in fact lack four of the remaining six items, which is a fairly severe requirement (cf. Nolan and Whelan 2011). By contrast, our assessment of material deprivation is based on exceeding the threshold value on a subscale of four items that are more discriminative in affluent societies: insufficient financial means for a club membership, for visiting family or friends, for heating one’s home properly and not being able to meet an unexpected expense of € 1,000 (cf. table 3).

  8. 8.

    Jehoel-Gijsbers and Vrooman (2008a) used the 2006 wave of EU-SILC. They also applied nonlinear canonical correlation analysis to construct a social exclusion index, but their scale only covered material deprivation, limited social participation and inadequate access to basic social rights (confined to health care and housing). Information about the dimension ‘lack of normative integration’ was not available.

  9. 9.

    An English version of the extended social exclusion questionnaire (190 separate items) may be obtained from the authors.

References

  1. Arts, W. A., & Gelissen, J. (2010). Models of the welfare state. In F. G. Castles, S. Leibfried, J. Lewis, H. Obinger, & C. Pierson (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of the welfare state (pp. 569–583). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Atkinson, T., Cantillon, B., Marlier, E., & Nolan, B. (2002). Social indicators; The EU and social inclusion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bayram, N., Bilgel, F., & Bilgel, N. G. (2012). Social exclusion and quality of life: An empirical study from Turkey. Social Indicators Research, 105(1), 109–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Boelhouwer, J. (2010). Wellbeing in the Netherlands: The SCP life situation index since 1974. The Hague: The Netherlands Institute for Social Research|SCP.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Bovens, M., & Wille, A. (2010). The education gap in political participation and its political consequences. Acta Politica, 45(4), 393–422.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bovens, M., & Wille, A. (2012). The education gap in participation: A rejoinder. Acta Politica, 47(3), 259–271.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bradshaw, J. (Ed.). (1993). Budget standards for the United Kingdom. Aldershot: Avebury.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bradshaw, J., & Mayhew, E. (2011). The measurement of extreme poverty in the European Union. Brussels: European Commission.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bradshaw, J., Middleton, S., Davis, A., Oldfield, N., Smith, N., Cusworth, L., et al. (2008). A minimum income standard for Britain: What people think. York/Loughborough: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Loughborough University.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Burchard, T. (2000). Social exclusion: Concepts and evidence. In D. Gordon & P. Townsend (Eds.), Breadline Europe: The measurement of poverty (pp. 385–406). Bristol: The Policy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Castles, F. G., & Obinger, H. (2008). Worlds, families, regimes: Country clusters in European and OECD area public policy. West European Politics, 31(1–2), 321–344.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. CBS/SCP (2011). Armoedesignalement 2011 [Poverty Survey 2011]. The Hague: Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Council of Europe (1998). Recommendation 1355: On fighting social exclusion and strengthening social cohesion in Europe. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Devicienti, F., & Poggi, A. (2011). Poverty and social exclusion: Two sides of the same coin or dynamically interrelated processes? Applied Economics, 43(25), 3549–3571.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Durkheim, E. (1897). Le suicide: Étude de sociologie. Paris: Félix Alcan.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Durkheim, E. (1901). Les règles de la méthode sociologique. Paris: Félix Alcan.

    Google Scholar 

  17. EC (2006). Portfolio of overarching indicators and streamlined social inclusion, pensions and health portfolios. Brussels: European Commission.

    Google Scholar 

  18. EC (2011a). Europe 2020 targets (as set by member states in their national reform programmes in April 2011). Brussels: European Commission (downloaded from http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/pdf/targets_en.pdf).

  19. EC (2011b). Employment and social developments in Europe 2011. Brussels: European Commission.

    Google Scholar 

  20. EC (2011c). People at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Brussels: European Commission (downloaded from http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu).

  21. Elias, N., & Scotson, J. L. (1965). The established and the outsiders: A sociological enquiry into community problems. London: Frank Cass.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Esping-Andersen, G. (1999). Social foundations of postindustrial economics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Fahey, T. (2010). Poverty and the two concepts of relative deprivation. Dublin: University College.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Ferragina, E., & Seeleib-Kaiser, M. (2011). Welfare regime debate: Past, present, futures? Policy and Politics, 39(4), 583–611.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Garson, G. D. (2008). Canonical correlation. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University (downloaded from http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/garson/PA765/canonic.htm).

  26. Gifi, A. (1990). Nonlinear multivariate analysis. Chichester: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Grosse Frie, K., & Janssen, Ch. (2009). Social inequality, lifestyles and health: A non-linear canonical correlation analysis based on the approach of Pierre Bourdieu. International Journal of Public Health, 54(4), 213–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Guiaux, M. (2011). Voorbestemd tot achterstand? Armoede en sociale uitsluiting in de kindertijd en 25 jaar later [Destined for disadvantage? Poverty and social exclusion during childhood and 25 years later]. The Hague: Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Hakhverdian, A., van der Brug, W., & de Vries, C. (2012). The emergence of a ‘diploma democracy’? The political education gap in the Netherlands, 1971–2010. Acta Politica, 47(3), 229–247.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Hentschel, U., van Praag, Th., & Kießling, M. (2011). Defense mechanisms and respiratory parameters. Psychology, 2(4), 331–334.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Hills, J., LeGrand, J., & Piachaud, D. (Eds.). (2002). Understanding social exclusion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Hoff, S., van Gaalen, C., Soede, A., Luten, A., Vrooman, C., & Lamers, S. (2010). The minimum agreed upon: Consensual budget standards for the Netherlands. The Hague: The Netherlands Institute for Social Research|SCP.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Hoff, S., & Vrooman, C. (2011). Dimensies van sociale uitsluiting: Naar een verbeterd meetinstrument [Dimensions of social exclusion: Towards an improved measurement instrument]. The Hague: Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Jehoel-Gijsbers, G. (2004). Sociale uitsluiting in Nederland [Social exclusion in the Netherlands]. The Hague: Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Jehoel-Gijsbers, G., Smits, W., Boelhouwer, J., & Bierings, H. (2009). Sociale uitsluiting: Een meetinstrument [Social exclusion: A measuring instrument]. The Hague: Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Jehoel-Gijsbers, G. & Vrooman, C. (2007). Explaining social exclusion: A theoretical model tested in the Netherlands. The Hague: The Netherlands Institute for Social Research|SCP.

  37. Jehoel-Gijsbers, G., & Vrooman, C. (2008a). Sociale uitsluiting in Nederland en Europa [Social exclusion in the Netherlands and in Europe]. In P. Schnabel, R. Bijl, & J. de Hart (Eds.), Betrekkelijke betrokkenheid. Studies in sociale cohesie. Sociaal en Cultureel Rapport 2008 (pp. 237–258). The Hague: Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Jehoel-Gijsbers, G., & Vrooman, C. (2008b). Social exclusion of the elderly: A comparative study of EU member states. Brussels: Centre for European Policy Studies.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Johnson, R. A., & Wichern, D. W. (2007). Applied multivariate statistical analysis. Upper Saddle River (NJ): Pearson Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Leibfried, S., & Mau, S. (Eds.). (2008). Welfare states: Construction, deconstruction, reconstruction. Analytical approaches. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Levitas, R. (2006). The concept and measurement of social exclusion. In C. Pantazis, D. Gordon, & R. Levitas (Eds.), Poverty and social exclusion in Britain: The millennium survey (pp. 123–160). Bristol: The Policy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Levy, J. D. (2010). Welfare retrenchment. In F. G., Castles, S., Leibfried, J., Lewis, H., Obinger, & C. Pierson (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of the welfare state (pp. 552–565). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  43. Lewis, O. (1969). Cultures of poverty. In P. Moynihan (Ed.), On understanding poverty: Perspectives from the social sciences. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Merton, R. K. (with Rossi, A. S.) (1968). Contributions to the theory of reference group behavior. In R. K. Merton, Social theory and social structure, 1968 enlarged edition (pp. 279–334). New York: The Free Press.

  45. Meulman, J. J., & Heiser, W. J. (2010). SPSS Categories 19. Chicago: SPSS Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Nolan, B. & Whelan, C. T. (2011). The EU 2020 poverty target. Amsterdam: AIAS, GINI Discussion Paper 19.

  47. Øyen, E. (1997). The contradictory concepts of social exclusion and social inclusion. In C. Gore & J. B. Figueiredo (Eds.), Social exclusion and anti-poverty policy. Geneva: International Institute of Labour Studies.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Pantazis, C., Gordon, D., & Levitas, R. (Eds.). (2006). Poverty and social exclusion in Britain: The millennium survey. Bristol: The Policy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Parker, R. E. (1928). Human migration and the marginal man. American Journal of Sociology, 33(6), 881–893.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Paugam, S. (1996). La constitution d’un paradigme. In S. Paugam (Ed.), L’exclusion, l’état des savoirs. Paris: La Découverte.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Pierson, P. (1996). The new politics of the welfare state. World Politics, 48(2), 143–179.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Poggi, A. (2007). Does persistence of social exclusion exist in Spain? Journal of Economic Inequality, 5(1), 53–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Roest, A. (2011). Kunnen meer kinderen meedoen? Veranderingen in de maatschappelijke participatie van kinderen, 2008–2010 [Are more children taking part? Changes in the social participation of Dutch children, 2008–2010]. The Hague: Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Roest, A., Lokhorst, A. M., & Vrooman, C. (2010). Sociale uitsluiting bij kinderen: omvang en achtergronden. [The social exclusion of children: Prevalence and underlying causes]. The Hague: Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Room, G. (1992). National policies to combat social exclusion. Brussels: European Commission.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Room, G. (1997). Social quality in Europe: Perspectives on social exclusion. In W. Beck, L. van der Maesen, & A. Walker (Eds.), The social quality of Europe. The Hague: Kluwer Law International.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Runciman, W. G. (1966). Relative deprivation and social justice. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Saraceno, C. (2001). Social exclusion: Cultural roots and diversities of a popular concept. Columbia: Columbia University.

    Google Scholar 

  59. SCP (2012). The social state of the Netherlands 2011—Summary. The Hague: The Netherlands Institute for Social Research|SCP.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Sen, A. (1992). Inequality re-examined. Cambridge, MA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Sen, A. (1993). Capability and well-being. In M. Nussbaum & A. Sen (Eds.), The quality of life (pp. 30–53). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Sen, A. (2000). Social exclusion: Concept explanation and scrutiny. Manila: Asian Development Bank.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Silver, H. (1994). Social exclusion and social solidarity: Three paradigms. International Labour Review, 133(5–6), 531–578.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Soede, A., & Vrooman, C. (2008). Beyond the breadline: A poverty threshold based on a generalised budget approach. The Hague: The Netherlands Institute for Social Research|SCP.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Stouffer, S. (1949). Studies in social psychology in World War II: The American soldier. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  66. Townsend, P. (1979). Poverty in the United Kingdom: A survey of household resources and standards of living. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Tsakloglou, P., & Papadopoulos, F. (2002). Aggregate level and determining factors of social exclusion in twelve European countries. Journal of European Social Policy, 12(3), 211–225.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. van der Burg, E., de Leeuw, J., & Dijksterhuis, G. (1994). Overals: Nonlinear canonical correlation with k sets of variables. Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, 18(1), 141–163.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. van Wijk, A. Ph., Blokland, A. A. J., Duits, N., Vermeiren, R., & Harkink, J. (2007). Relating psychiatric disorders, offender and offence characteristics in a sample of adolescent sex offenders and non-sex offenders. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 17(1), 15–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Vrooman, J. C. (2009). Rules of relief; Institutions of social security, and their impact. The Hague: The Netherlands Institute for Social Research|SCP.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Walker, R. (1987). Consensual approaches to the definition of poverty: Towards an alternative methodology. Journal of Social Policy, 16(2), 213–226.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Whelan, C. T., Layte, R., & Maître, B. (2004). Understanding the mismatch between income poverty and deprivation: A dynamic comparative analysis. European Sociological Review, 20(4), 287–302.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Wilson, W. J. (1987). The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  74. World Conference on Human Rights (1993). Vienna declaration and programme of action. Vienna: World Conference on Human Rights.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to J. Cok Vrooman or Stella J. M. Hoff.

Appendices

Appendix A: Items on Social Exclusion in the Questionnaire

See Tables 7, 8, 9, 10.

Table 7 Limited social participation: weights and component loadings
Table 8 Lack of normative integration: weights and component loadings
Table 9 Inadequate access to basic social rights, weights and component loadings
Table 10 Material deprivation, weights and component loadings

Appendix B: General Index and Subjective Perception of Social Exclusion

See Fig. 2.

Fig. 2
figure2

Scatter plot of scores on the social exclusion index versus response to the question ‘Do you sometimes feel as if you are outside society?’. Source Social Exclusion Survey 2010

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Vrooman, J.C., Hoff, S.J.M. The Disadvantaged Among the Dutch: A Survey Approach to the Multidimensional Measurement of Social Exclusion. Soc Indic Res 113, 1261–1287 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-012-0138-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Social exclusion
  • Nonlinear canonical correlation analysis
  • Social participation
  • Normative integration
  • Material deprivation
  • Social rights