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Economic Vulnerability and Severity of Debt Problems: An Analysis of the Irish EU-SILC 2008

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  • Russell, Helen
  • Maître, Bertrand
  • Whelan, Christopher T.

Abstract

In this paper, using Ireland, where debt issues are of particular salience as a test case, we seek to understand the extent to which the measures currently employed as national indicators of poverty and social exclusion succeed in capturing over-indebtedness and, more broadly, severity of debt problems. Our analysis reveals a clear gradient with predictive ability increasing sharply as one moves from 'at risk of poverty' to consistent poverty and finally economic vulnerability indicators. In relation to debt problems, the key distinction is between the just under one in five households defined as economically vulnerable and all others. Financial exclusion, relating to access to a bank account and a credit card, was found to increase debt levels. However, such effects were modest. The impact of economic vulnerability seems to be largely a consequence of its relationship to a wide range of socio-economic attributes and circumstances. The manner in which a potential debt crisis unfolds will be shaped by the broader socio-economic structuring of life-chances. Any attempt to respond to such problems by concentrating on household behaviour or, indeed, triggering factors without taking the wider social structuring of economic vulnerability is likely to be both seriously misguided and largely ineffective.

Suggested Citation

  • Russell, Helen & Maître, Bertrand & Whelan, Christopher T., 2011. "Economic Vulnerability and Severity of Debt Problems: An Analysis of the Irish EU-SILC 2008," Papers WP402, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp402
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Adele Atkinson & Stephen McKay & Sharon Collard & Elaine Kempson, 2007. "Levels of Financial Capability in the UK," Public Money & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(1), pages 29-36, February.
    2. Christopher T. Whelan, 2007. "Understanding the Implications of Choice of Deprivation Index for Measuring Consistent Poverty in Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 38(2), pages 211-234.
    3. Maitre, Bertrand & Nolan, Brian & Whelan, Christopher T., 2006. "Reconfiguring the Measurement of Deprivation and Consistent Poverty in Ireland," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS58.
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    1. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1350-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Christopher T. Whelan & Brian Nolan & Bertrand Maitre, 2017. "Polarization or “Squeezed Middle” in the Great Recession?: A Comparative European Analysis of the Distribution of Economic Stress," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 133(1), pages 163-184, August.
    3. Christopher T. Whelan & Bertrand Maítre, 2013. "The Great Recession and the Changing Distribution of Economic Vulnerability by Social Class: The Irish Case," Working Papers 201312, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    4. E. Calvert & Brian Nolan & Tony Fahey & D. Healy & A. Mulcahy & B. Maître & Michelle Norris & I. O’Donnell & Nessa Winston & Christopher Whelan, 2013. "GINI Country Report: Growing Inequalities and their Impacts in Ireland," GINI Country Reports ireland, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    5. Christopher T. Whelan & Brian Nolan & Bertrand Maítre, 2016. "The Great Recession and the Changing Distribution of Economic Stress across Income Classes and the Life Course in Ireland: A Comparative Perspective," Working Papers 201603, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    6. Atte Oksanen & Mikko Aaltonen & Kati Rantala, 2015. "Social Determinants of Debt Problems in a Nordic Welfare State: a Finnish Register-Based Study," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 229-246, September.

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    Keywords

    EU-SILC/Financial Exclusion/Ireland/Over-indebtedness/poverty/risk/social exclusion;

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