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Reassessing the EU 2020 Poverty Target an Analysis of EU-SILC 2009


  • Bertrand Maître

    (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin)

  • Brian Nolan

    (School of Applied Social Sciences, University College Dublin)

  • Christopher T. Whelan

    (School of Sociology and Geary Institute, Univeristy College Dublin)


As part of its 2020 Strategy adopted, the EU has set a number of headline targets including one for poverty and social exclusion reduction. Our analysis in this paper suggests that, in focusing on the union of the three chosen component indicators, cross-nationally we are not comparing like with like and the case for aggregating the indicators to produce a multidimensional indicator is seriously undermined. In relation to the measurement of deprivation, the development of this target was conducted on the basis of information available in the European Union Survey of Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) that was generally recognised to be less than satisfactory. More recently the introduction of a special module on material deprivation as part of EU-SILC 2009 provides an opportunity to explore the consequences of critical choices in relation to the index utilised and the threshold employed. In order to deal with problems relating to the fact that neither the union or intersection of all three of the current dimensions proves to be particularly useful, we explored a consistent poverty approach using both the EU severe material deprivation 4+ threshold and a 3+ and nationally relative threshold based on an alternative basic deprivation index. Employing the EU material deprivation index, extreme deprivation is largely abolished in more affluent member states. A purely relative measure produces much higher rates in these countries but leads to a compression of rates across counties. The basic deprivation 3+ index largely manages to avoid both of these problems.. Understanding the scale of between country difference countries while continuing to be able identify those groups who should remain the focus of national welfare state efforts is a formidable challenge. However, the capacity to respond to such a challenge in a coherent fashion is an indispensable part of any attempt to develop EU poverty targets.

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  • Bertrand Maître & Brian Nolan & Christopher T. Whelan, 2012. "Reassessing the EU 2020 Poverty Target an Analysis of EU-SILC 2009," Working Papers 201213, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201213

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romina Boarini & Marco Mira d'Ercole, 2006. "Measures of Material Deprivation in OECD Countries," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 37, OECD Publishing.
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    poverty; social exclusion; deprivation; EU-SILC; targets;

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