Measuring multidimensional vulnerability: Social Exclusion Index for Europe and Central Asia

Ivanov, Andrey, and Mihail Peleah (2012). "Measuring multidimensional vulnerability: Social Exclusion Index for Europe and Central Asia" Paper presented at the 9th annual conference of the HDCA, 5-7 September 2012, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Group approach is most commonly used to address social exclusion. However, it suffers from errors of exclusion and inclusion and is not always instrumental in terms of policy options. Given that people are the centre of development, we propose individualized approach to social exclusion, and a Social Exclusion Index to measure individual exclusion. The index we constructed encompasses three dimensions: exclusion from economic life, social services, and civic and social participation. Each dimension contains eight indicators, in total 24 indicators. Equal weights are assumed, as the chosen indicators are of relatively equal importance. As Atkinson et al (2002) observe, equal weighting has an intuitive appeal: ‘The interpretation of the set of indicators is greatly eased where the individual components have degrees of importance that, while not necessarily exactly equal, are not grossly different’. On the one hand, there was no evidence for using relative weights of dimensions and indicators, i.e. that people more seriously regret deprivation in housing than in social participation. On the other hand, the situation in the six countries covered by the survey is so different, that finding any common relative weights of dimensions or indicators would be an impossible task. The indicators for each dimension were selected on the basis of research findings, expert opinion and availability of data. A number of iterations were performed to ensure the selection of the most appropriate set of indicators. Since data on total household expenditures were missing in many cases, we imputed certain values, using related or proxy variables available in survey For material deprivation indicators, we employed a regression analysis and a factor analysis. The results of both suggest that material deprivation indicators could be clustered into three groups— housing, amenities and ICT. Such a combination of indicators best reflects the diversity of living standards in the countries of the region. We end up with the list of 24 indicators, reflecting exclusion from economic life (being unemployed or a discouraged worker, unable to satisfy basic needs in terms of affording adequate food, pay bills regularly, keep house adequately warm or buying new clothes and shoes), social services (low educational achievements and early school leavers, cannot afford sending children in school or preschool, medical needs not being met by the health care system), and civic and social participation (rare or infrequent social contact with family, relatives, and friends, lack of support networks that could help in the event of emergency). We conducted robustness checks of indicators for the Social Exclusion Index as well. We applied proposed Social Exclusion Index methodology to six countries of the Europe and CIS region (Macedonia FYR, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine; and later on to Armenia). We analyzed and quantified how three elements of social exclusion chain—individual risks, local conditions, and drivers of exclusion— influence social exclusion of people, as measured by the proposed Social Exclusion Index. Individual characteristics were obtained from the survey. Drivers of exclusions were quantified using both data from survey, and external datasets. We employed innovative “Secondary Source Contextualization” approach to collect data on local conditions. Results of the analysis allowed us to make step from group to individual approach to social exclusion, and discuss various policy options for social inclusion.
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