Social Indicators Research

, Volume 118, Issue 3, pp 1087–1102 | Cite as

On ‘Consistent’ Poverty

Article

Abstract

The measurement of poverty as ‘consistent’ poverty offers a solution to one of the primary problems of poverty measurement within Social Policy of the last three decades. Often treated as if they were synonymous, ‘indirect’ measures of poverty, such as low income measures, and ‘direct’ measures, such as indices of material deprivation, identify surprisingly different people as being poor. In response to this mismatch, a team of Irish researchers put forward a measure which identified respondents in as being in poverty when they experienced both a low standard of living, as measured by deprivation indicators, and a lack of resources, as measured by a low income line. Importantly, they argued that the two measures required an equal weight. In this paper, I present a reconsideration of the consistent poverty measure from both conceptual and empirical perspectives. In particular, I examine the claim that low income and material deprivation measures should be given an ‘equal weight’. I argue that, from a conceptual perspective, the nature of the indicators at hand means that a deprivation-led measurement approach might be understood to align with the definition of poverty which Nolan and Whelan outline and, from an empirical perspective, that it is the material deprivation measure—and not the low income measure—which is particularly effective in identifying individuals at risk of multiple forms of deprivation. However, I argue that greater attention needs to be given to the question of whether indicators of material deprivation provide a sufficient measure of material poverty and suggest that advancing the measurement of material deprivation beyond its relatively rudimentary state represents an important priority for poverty research.

Keywords

Consistent poverty Material deprivation Low income 

References

  1. Atkinson, A. B., Cantillon, B., Marlier, E., & Nolan, B. (2002). Social indicators: The EU and social inclusion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berthoud, R., & Bryan, M. (2011). Income, deprivation and poverty: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Social Policy, 40(1), 135–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Callan, T., Nolan, B., & Whelan, C. T. (1993). Resources, deprivation and the measurement of poverty. Journal of Social Policy, 22(2), 141–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Europe 2020 website (n.d.) http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/index_en.htm. Last accessed 24 March 2013.
  5. Fahmy, E., Pemberton, S., & Sutton, E. (2011). Public perceptions of poverty, social exclusion and living standards: Preliminary report on focus group findings. Bristol: PSE.Google Scholar
  6. Goldberg, D. P., & Hillier, V. F. (1979). A scaled version of the General Health Questionnaire. Psychological Medicine, 9, 139–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Government of Ireland. (1997). National anti-poverty strategy. Dublin: The Stationary Office.Google Scholar
  8. Guio, A.-C., Gordon, D., & Marlier, E. (2012). Measuring material deprivation in the EU: Indicators for the whole population and child-specific indicators. Eurostat: Luxembourg.Google Scholar
  9. Halleröd, B., & Larsson, D. (2008). Poverty, welfare problems and social exclusion. International Journal of Social Welfare, 17(1), 15–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hick, R. (2012). The capability approach: Insights for a new poverty focus. Journal of Social Policy, 41(2), 291–308.Google Scholar
  11. Hick, R. (2013). Poverty, preference or pensioners? Measuring material deprivation in the UK. Fiscal Studies, 34(1), 31–54.Google Scholar
  12. Hick, R. (forthcoming). Three perspectives on the mismatch between measures of material poverty. British Journal of Sociology.Google Scholar
  13. Jenkins, S. (2011). Changing fortunes: Income mobility and poverty dynamics in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Levy, H., & Jenkins, S. P. (2008). Documentation for derived current and annual net household income variables, BHPS waves 1–16. http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/doc/3909%5Cmrdoc%5Cpdf%5C3909userguide.pdf. Accessed 22 February 2010.
  15. Mack, J., & Lansley, S. (1985). Poor Britain. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  16. McKay, S. (2004). Poverty or preference: What do ‘consensual deprivation indicators’ really measure? Fiscal Studies, 25(2), 201–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nolan, B., & Whelan, C. T. (1996). Resources, deprivation and poverty. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Nolan, B., & Whelan, C. T. (2011). Poverty and deprivation in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Piachaud, D. (1981). Peter Townsend and the Holy Grail. New Society, 10 September 1981, pp. 418–420.Google Scholar
  20. Ringen, S. (1987). The possibility of politics: A study in the political economy of the welfare state. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Ringen, S. (1988). Direct and indirect measures of poverty. Journal of Social Policy, 17(3), 351–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Townsend, P. (1979). Poverty in the United Kingdom: A survey of household resources and standards of living. Middlesex: Penguin.Google Scholar
  23. Wiggins, R. D., Netuveli, G., Hyde, M., Higgs, P., & Blane, D. (2008). The evaluation of a self-enumerated scale of Quality of Life (CASP-19) in the context of research on ageing: A combination of exploratory and confirmatory approaches. Social Indicators Research, 89, 61–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

Personalised recommendations