Identifying Childhood Deprivation: How Well Do National Indicators of Poverty and Social Exclusion in Ireland Perform?

Christopher T. Whelan, Bertrand Maitre


In the context of the significance that the life-cycle has been afforded in social policy discussion in Ireland, current national measures of poverty and social exclusion have been criticised for failing to capture such phenomena accurately in relation to particular stages of the life-course. In this paper we have taken advantage of the inclusion of a special module on childhood deprivation in EU-SILC 2009 to create reliable measures of both household basic deprivation and childhood deprivation. Overall, our analysis leads us to the conclusion that those exposed to childhood deprivation are generally a sub-set of the children captured by population indicators. Adopting a multidimensional and dynamic perspective on household resources and deprivation enables us to capture the large majority of children exposed to childhood deprivation. Restricting our attention to childhood deprivation would lead us to miss out on a significant number of children living in households experiencing basic deprivation but not exposed to childhood deprivation. It would be unwise to assume that such deprivation has no consequences for children. While there is clearly a value in supplementing existing national measures with child specific indicators, it would not appear sensible to rely solely on the latter.

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