IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The 'Europeanisation' of Reference Groups: A reconsideration Using EU-SILC


  • Christopher T. Whelan

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Bertrand Maître

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))


In this paper we address the question of the relative importance of within and between country differences in income and material deprivation in the European Union in the context of recent suggestions that insufficient attention has been paid to cross-national differences. In particular, we respond to the argument that the 'state bounded' relative income approach obscures the significance of EU-wide reference groups. Making use of EU-SILC 2004, we have sought to quantify the magnitude of relevant within and between country differences and their relative impact. Overall, our analysis supports the view that the predominant frame of reference is a national one. The limited impact of European reference groups observed in our analysis does not require explanation in terms of the emergence of a European social stratification system. Furthermore, the significance of such comparisons depends not only on the expectations of those affected by European inequalities but on the degree of legitimacy afforded to ensuing demands. While an EU-wide income-threshold can provide information regarding progress of the Union towards greater social cohesion, its usage for this purpose does not require a strong sense of European identity. Given, the current status of the European Social Model it would seem unwise to attribute an undue degree of policy relevance to the relatively modest evidence relating to the impact of EU-wide reference groups revealed in our analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher T. Whelan & Bertrand Maître, 2007. "The 'Europeanisation' of Reference Groups: A reconsideration Using EU-SILC," Papers WP200, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp200

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2007
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ruud Muffels & Didier Fouarge, 2004. "The Role of European Welfare States in Explaining Resources Deprivation," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 68(3), pages 299-330, September.
    2. Ger, Guliz & Belk, Russell W., 1996. "Cross-cultural differences in materialism," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 55-77, February.
    3. Christopher Whelan & Bertrand Maître, 2007. "Income, deprivation and economic stress in the enlarged European Union," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 83(2), pages 309-329, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Christopher T. Whelan & Bertrand Maître, 2012. "Material Deprivation, Economic Stress and Reference Groups in Europe: An Analysis of EU-SILC2009," Working Papers 201206, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.

    More about this item


    reference groups; income poverty; economic strain; economic stress;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp200. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sarah Burns). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.