Explaining levels of deprivation in the European Union

R Layte, C T Whelan, B Maitre

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    Abstract

    In this paper we seek to explain variations in levels of deprivation between EU countries. The starting-point of our analysis is the finding that the relationship between income and life-style deprivation varies across countries. Given our understanding of the manner in which the income-deprivation mismatch may arise from the limitations of current income as a measure of command over resources, the pattern of variation seems to be consistent with our expectations of the variable degree to which welfare-state regimes achieve 'decommodification' and smooth income flows. This line of reasoning suggests that cross-national differences in deprivation might, in significant part, be due not only to variation in household and individual characteristics that are associated with disadvantage but also to the differential impact of such variables across countries and indeed welfare regimes. To test this hypothesis, we have taken advantage of the ECHP (European Community Household Panel) comparative data set in order to pursue a strategy of substituting variable names for country/welfare regime names. We operated with two broad categories of variables, tapping, respectively, needs and resources. Although both sets of factors contribute independently to our ability to predict deprivation, it is the resource factors that are crucial in reducing country effects. The extent of cross-national heterogeneity depends on specifying the social class and situation in relation to long-term unemployment of the household reference person. The impact of the structural socio-economic variables that we label 'resource factors' varies across countries in a manner that is broadly consistent with welfare regime theory and is the key factor in explaining cross-country differences in deprivation. As a consequence, European homogeneity is a great deal more evident among the advantaged than the disadvantaged.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)105-121
    Number of pages17
    JournalActa sociologica
    Volume44
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001

    Cite this

    Layte, R., Whelan, C. T., & Maitre, B. (2001). Explaining levels of deprivation in the European Union. Acta sociologica, 44(2), 105-121.