Welfare Regime and Social Class Variation in Poverty and Economic Vulnerability in Europe: An Analysis of EU-SILC
In this paper we address a set of interrelated issues. These comprise increasing concerns about reliance on nationally based income poverty measures in the context of EU-enlargement, the relative merits of one dimensional versus multidimensional approaches to poverty and social exclusion and the continuing relevance of class based explanations of life chances. Identifying economically vulnerable groups we find that, contrary to the situation with national income poverty measures, levels of vulnerability vary systematically across welfare regimes. The multidimensional profile of the economically vulnerable sharply differentiates them from the remainder of the population. While they are also characterised by distinctively higher levels of multiple deprivation, a substantial majority of the economically vulnerable are not exposed to such deprivation. Unlike the national relative income approach, the focus on economic vulnerability reveals a pattern of class differentiation that is not dominated by the contrast between the self-employed and all others. In contrast to a European-wide relative income approach, it also simultaneously captures the fact that absolute levels of vulnerability are distinctively higher among the lower social classes in the less comprehensive and generous welfare regimes while class relativities are significantly sharper at the other end of the spectrum.
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