Innocenti Working Papers

The UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (IRC) was created to strengthen UNICEF's research capability and to support its advocacy for children worldwide. The Working Papers (formerly Innocenti Occasional Papers), are the foundation of the Centre's research output, underpinning many of the Centre's other publications. These high quality research papers are aimed at an academic and well-informed audience, contributing to ongoing discussion on a wide range of child-related issues.


Monitoring Child Well-Being in the European Union

Measuring Cumulative Deprivation

The European Union is developing child specific indicators of well-being to complement the Laeken indicators on poverty and social exclusion. Though many child sensitive indicators have been proposed, none of the measures is sensitive to (changes in) cumulative deprivation, i.e. the degree to which a child simultaneously experiences a range of unfavourable conditions. This paper describes and empirically tests a number of candidate measures of cumulative deprivation to monitor child well-being. The ideal measure is sensitive to (changes in) cumulative deprivation and, given its broad use in the policy community, has an intuitive interpretation. Using the 2007 wave of the EU-SILC data, we construct several headcount and adjusted-headcount measures of cumulative deprivation from a set of 13 deprivation indicators for Germany, France, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. We test the impact of changes in the main methodological decisions: the exclusion of deprivation indicators, changes in the indicator threshold, changes in the cumulative deprivation threshold and changes in the weighting indicators. Our findings indicate that some measures are considerably more sensitive than others. In the context of the search for child-specific indicators, we conclude that headcount and adjusted headcount measures of cumulative deprivation give relevant and complementary insights into child well-being and perform well in sensitivity tests. While the interpretation of headcount measures is somewhat easier, the adjusted-headcount is additionally able to monitor changes in cumulative deprivation and it is less sensitive to changes in the methodology. Within these two broad classes some non-trivial choices must be made and the adjusted-headcount with a cumulative deprivation threshold of one satisfies the evaluation criteria best. The relative measures of cumulative deprivation are problematic: not only are they very sensitive to changes in methodological decisions, but they are also more difficult to interpret. However, to monitor cumulative deprivation of children there is also a need for child specific indicators (rather than household level indicators) over a wider range of well-being domains.


Keywords: European Union, child poverty, poverty measurement, cumulative deprivation, multidimensional poverty
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