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Methodological choices and opportunity cost in the measurement of child and family poverty Brían Merriman, Childrens Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin.

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Presentation on theme: "Methodological choices and opportunity cost in the measurement of child and family poverty Brían Merriman, Childrens Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin."— Presentation transcript:

1 Methodological choices and opportunity cost in the measurement of child and family poverty Brían Merriman, Childrens Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century UCC, June 2012

2 What we can't learn because of who wasn't asked

3 Outline Child poverty vs. Family poverty Impact of poverty Measurement of poverty as: – Income – Deprivation Material Social Financial literacy Poverty as disempowerment Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

4 Child poverty vs. Family poverty Assumed to be identical (Swords et al., 2011) Depends on who is asked (Middleton et al., 1997) – Usually parents, usually household income – Views of children under-represented (Swords et al., 2011) Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

5 Impact of poverty Food, energy, housing security (March et al., 2011) Under-nutrition Developmental delay Poor physical health (Lucas et al., 2008; March et al., 2011) Poorer education, employment prospects (Grinspun, 2004) Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

6 Indirect impact Parent-child conflict Marital conflict Parental depression (Conger et al., 1994; Mammen et al., 2009) Socio-cultural, political factors Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

7 Mediation of impact Parents often seek to protect their children by sacrificing their own physical well-being, mental health, and material needs (Bennett, 2005; Grødem, 2008) Over-compensation Family, friends contribute to meeting childrens needs Young peoples own income (see Middleton et al., 1997; Skevik, 2008) Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

8 Solutions Employment Income Based on the assumptions that: – Child poverty is the same as family poverty – Low income is the cause of poverty Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

9 Income support Addressing families needs through direct financial support was not shown to have any effect on outcomes related to physical health, mental health, oral health, psychomotor or cognitive development, or educational attainment (Lucas et al., 2008) Poverty is a systemic social problem which is amenable to structural changes at a national level rather than through local intervention (Ward & Scott, 2005) Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

10 Impact of employment Unemployment linked to anxiety, depression, reduced confidence, reduced self-esteem, and reduced happiness (Theodossiou, 1998) – Having a job was important, rather than having just money Children living in households with an unemployed father or no employed parent had poorer emotional well-being in later life (Cusworth, 2009) Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

11 Childcare Increases labour market participation of mothers (Baker et al., 2009) Greater advantages only for part-time employed mothers (Buehler & OBrien, 2011) Some disadvantages for full-time employed mothers (Baker et al., 2009; Kinnunen et al., 2006): – Increased parental stress – Emotional and behavioural problems – Delayed development – Deterioration in parent-child relationships Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

12 Poverty as income At-risk-of-poverty (ARP) threshold is 60% of national median income – Poverty line in America is 36% of NMI (Bibus et al., 2005) Proportion of families with children below poverty threshold, not children living in poverty (Kerrins & Greene, 2009) Relative poverty, not deprivation Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

13 What we cant learn… What people are missing out on because of low income Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

14 Poverty as material deprivation 1.Two pairs of strong shoes 2.A warm, waterproof overcoat 3.New (not second-hand) clothes 4.A meal with meat, chicken, fish, or vegetarian equivalent every second day 5.A roast joint or its equivalent once a week 6.Home heating at some stage in the year 7.An adequately warm home 8.Presents for family or friends at least once a year 9.New furniture to replace any worn-out furniture 10.To have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month 11.A morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight for entertainment Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

15 What we cant learn… Differential impact on parents and children Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

16 Poverty for children Participatory research Distinction between child poverty and family poverty (Middleton et al., 1997; Swords et al., 2011) Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

17 All you need is… (Swords et al., 2011) Aims to identify child necessities and report on their deprivation of these necessities Socially-perceived necessities method List of items – Whether a necessity – Possession or deprivation – Enforced or voluntary deprivation Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

18 Necessities Material: food, clothing Activity: days out, swimming Service: transport, banking Non-essential items: pony and trampoline Focus groups with children, parents 49-item survey of children and parents – N = 262 – Age range 9-11 years Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

19 Child-parent differences Own bedroom Present to bring to friends birthday party Clothes for special occasions New, not second-hand clothes Games console, computer games, internet, mobile phone Food and drink for friends when they call over to play Family holiday Schools trips Shops close to home Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

20 Index of child deprivation 1.Three balanced meals each day with fruit/vegetables and meat/fish (if they eat meat or fish) 2.Enough of the right clothes for different seasons, for example, a coat to keep warm and dry in winter 3.Separate bed and bedding of their own 4.Own books for reading for fun 5.Food and drinks for friends when they call over to play 6.Own money for school activities or days out 7.Family holiday once a year (can be in Ireland or a different country) 8.Day out with family at least twice a year (like going to the beach, fun fair, leisure centres) 9.Go to a restaurant for a family meal at least twice a year 10.A bank, post office, or Credit Union account to save money 11.Shops close to home (like food shops, clothes shops, or chemists) 12.Access to the library Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

21 Index of child deprivation - Results Reasonable internal reliability α = Socio-demographic gradients Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012 Child report % Mother report % No reported deprivation One item Two Three or more

22 Child vs. family Weak correlation of r =.2 Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

23 Growing Up in Ireland First national longitudinal study of children Two cohorts Survey of children and parents or guardians Childrens health and development, psychological well-being, education, and activities; aspects of parents well-being; family income Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012 Age at W1NWave 1Wave 2Wave 3 Child9 years8, Infant9 months11,

24 GUI income data Gross annual income Equivalised income Material deprivation Social class Employment status Small Area Population Statistics (SAPS) Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

25 Family well-being among low income families GUI archived data c. 1,600 families at risk of poverty c. 250 families in consistent poverty Family well-being: – Child well-being – Parent well-being – Parent-child relationships Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

26 ARP vs. CP (Merriman et al., 2012) ARP is bad; CP is worse – Lower self-esteem – Lower academic achievement – More permissive parenting – Higher parent-child conflict – Higher rates of maternal depression – Lower levels of marital satisfaction – Poorer self-reported maternal health Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

27 Measurement of poverty All of child deprivation, household deprivation, and household income are important Without any, methodologically weaker Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

28 Poverty as social exclusion Being unable to participate in society Lack of resources Individuals and communities Low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments and family problems (Office for Social Inclusion, 2012) Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

29 Financial literacy General knowledge and understanding about money and its uses (Allen & Miller, 2010; Daly & Leonard, 2002) Factor in low levels of employment and in poverty In turn, relies on basic literacy and numeracy Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

30 References Baker, M., Gruber, J., & Milligan, K. (2008). Universal child care, maternal labor supply, and family well-being. Journal of Political Economy, 116, Bennett, F. (2005). Promoting the health and well-being of children: Evidence of need in the UK. In J. Scott & H. Ward (Eds.), Safeguarding and promoting the well-being of children, families and communities (pp.25-43). London: Jessica Kingsley. Bibus, A.A., Link, R.J., & ONeal, M. (2005). The impact of US welfare reform on childrens well-being: Minnesota focus. In J. Scott & H. Ward (Eds.), Safeguarding and promoting the well-being of children, families and communities (pp.59-74). London: Jessica Kingsley. Buehler, C., & OBrien, M. (2011). Mothers part-time employment: Associations with mother and family well-being. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, Conger, R.D., Ge, X., Elder, G.H., Lorenz, F.O., Simons, R,L. (1994). Economic stress, coercive family process, and developmental problems of adolescents. Child Development, 65, Cusworth, L. (2009). The impact of parental employment: Young people, well-being and educational achievement. Farnham: Ashgate. Daly, M., & Leonard, M. (2002). Against all odds: Family life on a low income in Ireland. Dublin: Combat Poverty Agency. Grødem, A.S. (2008). Household poverty and deprivation among children: how strong are the links? Childhood, 15, Kinnunen, U., Feldt, T., Guerts, S., & Pulkkinen, L. (2006). Types of work-family interface: Well-being correlates of negative and positive spillover between work and family. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 47, Lucas P, McIntosh K, Petticrew M, Roberts HM, Shiell A. Financial benefits for child health and well-being in low income or socially disadvantaged families in developed world countries. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD DOI: / CD pub2. Mammen, S., Lass, D., & Seiling, S.B. (2009). Labor force supply decisions of rural low-income mothers. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 30, March, E., Ettinger de Cuba, S., Cook, J.T., Bailey, K., Cutts, D.B., Meyers, A.F., & Frank, D.A. (2011). Behind closed doors: The hidden health impacts of being behind on rent. Childrens Health Watch. Middleton, S., Ashworth, K., and Braithwaite, I. (1997). Small Fortunes: Spending on Children, Childhood Poverty and Parental Sacrifice. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Swords, L., Greene, S., Boyd, E., & Kerrins, L. (2011). All you need is …: Measuring childrens perceptions and experiences of deprivation. Dublin: Childrens Research Centre. Theodossiou, I. (1998). The effects of low-pay and unemployment on psychological well-being: a logistic regression approach. Journal of Health Economics, 17, Ward, H. & Scott, J. (2005). Safeguarding and promoting the well-being of children, families and communities. In J. Scott & H. Ward (Eds.), Safeguarding and promoting the well-being of children, families and communities (pp.13-21). London: Jessica Kingsley. Williams, J., et al. (2009). Growing Up in Ireland – The lives of 9-year-olds. Dublin: Stationery Office. Conceptualising and Measuring Poverty: Methods for the 21 st Century, UCC, June 2012

31 Thank you!


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