Working Paper 7: Equality Sensitive Measures: Measuring the depth and relative deprivation of households in Northern Ireland
Paddy Hillyard and Vani Borooah
Decisions about which poverty measure to adopt have considerable policy consequences. Income based measures have been the principal method of recording the levels of poverty in the UK and Europe. In 2002/2003 the NI Poverty and Social Exclusion study produced a consensual measure of poverty based on the ‘item based’ approach pioneered by Townsend and developed in the Millennium study. The UNDP uses GDP and also takes account of ‘achievements’. But as ‘achievements’ vary across different groups in a country, for example, by gender or religion, Anand and Sen (1997) suggested a method which takes account of intergroup differences and they termed the resulting indicators ‘equity sensitive measures’.
This paper combines the UNDP approach with the item based approach developed by Townsend to develop a more sophisticated measurement of poverty which explicitly embraces inequality. Using data from the PSENI it constructs equity sensitive indicators of the standard of living in Northern Ireland and shows how different groups ‘function’ in Northern Ireland. The final section of the paper draws out some of the policy implications of such an approach.