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Abstract:

SPCC Working Paper
Small-area measures of income poverty
Alex Fenton
May 2013
Paper No' SPCCWP01:
Full Paper (pdf)

Tags: area; small-area; small; proxy; neighbourhood; spatial; measurement; cold climate; social policy in a cold climate

This paper considers techniques for measuring the prevalence of income poverty within small areas, or “neighbourhoods”, in Britain. The ultimate purpose is applying such statistics to investigating how the micro-spatial distribution of poverty within cities and regions changes over time as a consequence of political decisions and economic events. In the paper, some general criteria for small-area poverty measures are first set out, and two broad methods, poverty proxies and modelled income estimates, are identified. Empirical analyses of the validity and coverage of poverty proxies derived from UK administrative data, such as social security benefit claims, are presented. The concluding section assesses a new poverty proxy that will be used within a wider programme of analysis of the spatial distributional effects of tax and welfare changes and of economic trends in Britain from 2000 to 2014. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between the proxy values and other local poverty measures in different kinds of places. These suggest that the proxy is an adequate, albeit imperfect,tool for investigating changes in intra-urban distributions of poverty.