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Multidimensional poverty dynamics in Spain and other European countries

Nicolai Suppa, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED) - CERCA, EQUALITAS and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI)

Multidimensional poverty is composed of several different forms of deprivation, in areas such as health and education. How has Spain and other European countries performed in terms of multidimensional poverty in recent years? To what extent do already experienced forms of deprivation beget further deprivation, and do countries vary in this respect? While the first question may be answered using a descriptive analysis, for addressing the second question, one may estimate whether (multidimensionally) poor people are more likely to enter an additional form of deprivation and less likely to leave an existing form of deprivation. Advantages of this approach include that such estimates may be reported annually and that they reflect numerous factors and mechanisms. Analysing more than 20 European countries over 2016-2020 allows us to see that, unlike other European countries, Spain did not experience a reduction in the poverty incidence over this period. Second, no single form of deprivation is experienced by all poor people. The data suggest that well-orchestrated policy programmes may help to overcome overlapping forms of deprivation.
Key points
  • 1
       The incidence of multidimensional poverty in Spain amounts to some 15% and barely changed over the period of observation 2016-2020.
  • 2
       Poor people suffer from various combinations of deprivation at the same time, and only 2-10% of the population is both deprived in a particular indicator and poor. This means that there is no single form of deprivation shared by all poor people.
  • 3
       People who are multidimensionally poor are often about 10 percentage points more likely to enter an additional form of deprivation and up to 20 percentage points less likely to leave an existing form of deprivation than comparable non-poor people in similar situations. This result suggests that deprivation tends to couple over time.
  • 4
       Similar evidence on the coupling of deprivation is also observed in most other European countries, although there is variation across countries.
  • 5
       To overcome the coupling of deprivation, well-coordinated policy programmes may play a critical role.
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