New research on subjective poverty

Nicolas Duvoux and Adrien Papuchon have written a new working paper for the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics, Subjective Poverty as perceived lasting social insecurity: Lessons from a French survey on poverty, inequality and the welfare state (2015-2018).

Literature has long been attentive to the study of subjective happiness or well-being. Key questions developed in the late 1970’s have recently been framed as indicators of subjective economic stress or used to build “consensual poverty lines”. Yet, these notions differ from an authentic – i.e. direct – measure of subjective poverty. We use 2015-2018 French data to determine the share of the population who considers itself as poor and study its social composition. Our results demonstrate that class, family composition and income instability matter as determinants of subjective poverty. The key feature of the group of those who consider themselves as poor is a degraded attitude towards their own future. Finally, we propose a sociological understanding of our subjective poverty indicator. …

 Our indicator reveals, at the individual level, the effects of the casualization of work and of welfare state retrenchment. A structural instability results in the objective and perceived perspectives of those who are affected by a self-identification as poor. More precisely, our direct indicator of subjective poverty reveals the close relationship between current instability and inability to project positively in the future, a critical social norm, yet far from being equally accessible to members of all social groups in Western societies. Thus, we developed the idea that subjective poverty was an indicator of lasting social insecurity. (pp. 3, 25)


© Nicolas Duvoux & Adrien Papuchon. All rights reserved