Putting poverty in perspective

The think-tank Demos has launched a pioneering method for measuring poverty using data from Understanding Society.

Poverty in Perspective is the culmination of an 18-month long project, led by Demos, in partnership with NatCen and supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, to create a new model to understand poverty in a multi-dimensional way.

The model has been created by applying a set of 20 indicators to those with incomes below 70 per cent of the median in Understanding Society and identified which combinations of indicators cluster most frequently together.

The report’s authors say:

“We are not redefining poverty, or measuring it in a new way that replaces the existing income benchmark. Instead, we are applying a new model of analysis to the low-income population (using an existing income-based poverty line) to better understand the lived experience of poverty and generate new insights into how to tackle it.”

The researchers say they are now able to describe 15 distinct types of poverty within the low-income population, characterised by a unique interaction of 20 indicators across three cohorts: households with and without children, and pensioner households.

“We have generated a rich source of data about different groups living in poverty, based on their lived experience, which could prove extremely helpful in guiding policymakers and practitioners in thinking in a more nuanced way about those who live in poverty.”

The report concludes:

“Our analysis should also prompt more holistic and multi-agency solutions (based on an understanding of multiple factors) regarding how each group might be helped out of the distinct type of poverty they face.”

Claudia Wood on a multi-dimensional approach to poverty

Photo credit: hitthatswitch