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CASE Research | Intra-household allocation of resources

Research Objectives and Overview

Single parents with very limited income are often driven to neglect their own individual needs in order to prioritise their children's needs for food, clothing, or day to day items. Nevertheless, a conventional indicators of being at risk of a low standard of living - household income below a given threshold, or household experiencing material deprivation - are imperfect proxies for individuals' achieved standards of living. This is because they rely on the assumption that all members of a household share its resources and hardships equally. But previous studies have shown this is unlikely to reflect what actually happens. Who benefits from the household income is likely to vary systematically by gender, age, and household composition, as well as by country as household composition varies dramatically across European Union countries.

This issue has come into sharp focus during the recent recession and 'austerity' programmes. Adopting shared living arrangements is one strategy to protect the living standards of vulnerable family members. The countries of Southern Europe especially hard hit by the recession and austerity already had high levels of multi-generational households, and this may have increased further.

This project is using micro-data from the European Union Statistics on Incomes and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) to examine the sensitivity of poverty, deprivation and inequality estimates across European countries to different assumptions about the intra-household sharing of resources in complex households, and to identify the groups of people for whom intra-household inequality may have the largest impact.