Social Indicators Research

, Volume 133, Issue 2, pp 477–500 | Cite as

Multi-Dimensional Deprivation in the U.S.

  • Shatakshee DhongdeEmail author
  • Robert Haveman


This paper presents a comprehensive analysis of multidimensional deprivation in the U.S. since the Great Recession, from 2008 to 2013. We estimate a Multidimensional Deprivation Index by compiling individual level data on several well-being dimensions from the American Community Survey. Our results indicate that the proportion of the population that is multidimensional deprived averages about 15 percent, which exceeds the prevalence of official income poverty. Lack of education, severe housing burden and lack of health insurance were some of the dimensions in which Americans were most deprived in. Though deprivation increased during the recession, it trended towards a decline between 2010 and 2013. Unlike the official and the supplemental poverty measure which did not show any decline, the deprivation index better reflects the economic recovery since the recession. Overall, the prevalence of deprivation was higher in the southern and the western states and among the Asian and the Hispanic population. Importantly, there was not much overlap between individuals who were income poor and those who were multidimensional deprived. In fact, almost 30 % of individuals with incomes slightly above the poverty threshold experienced multiple deprivations. Our analysis underscores the need to look beyond income based poverty statistics in order to fully realize the impact of the recession on individuals’ well-being.


American community survey Capabilities approach Measurement Multidimensional Poverty Recession United States 

JEL Classification

D6 I32 O15 



We are grateful to an anonymous referee for providing useful comments on the previous version. We also thank Gordon Anderson, Sarah Bruch, James Foster, Thesia Garner, David Grusky, Julie Hotchkiss, Stephan Klasen, Timothy Smeeding, Barbara Wolfe, Madeline Zavodny, and seminar participants at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington D.C., Gordon College, Boston, Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, Palo Alto, where versions of this paper were presented.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EconomicsGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Economics and Robert M. La Follette School of Public AffairsUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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