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

Author

Listed:
  • Helen Russell

    (The Economic and Social Research Institute,)

  • Bertrand Maître

    (The Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin)

  • Christopher T. Whelan

    (School of Sociology and UCD Geary Institute,)

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

  • Helen Russell & Bertrand Maître & Christopher T. Whelan, 2011. "Economic Vulnerability and Severity of Debt Problems: An Analysis of the Irish EU-SILC 2008," Working Papers 201113 Keywords : poverty, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201113
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Adele Atkinson & Stephen McKay & Sharon Collard & Elaine Kempson, 2007. "Levels of Financial Capability in the UK," Public Money & Management, Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, vol. 27(1), pages 29-36, February.
    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. Christopher Whelan & Helen Russell & Bertrand Maître, 2016. "Economic Stress and the Great Recession in Ireland: Polarization, Individualization or ‘Middle Class Squeeze’?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 126(2), pages 503-526, March.
    2. Dorothy Watson & Christopher T. Whelan & Bertrand Maître & Helen Russell, 2018. "Social Class and Conversion Capacity: Deprivation Trends in the Great Recession in Ireland," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 140(2), pages 549-570, November.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.

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