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Multidimensional disadvantage and wellbeing

The paper examines the measurement of different domains of disadvantage – income poverty, deprivation, and social exclusion – to develop new disadvantage measures based on the dimensionality of disadvantage. These new dimensional measures are then used to examine the relationship between disadvantage and wellbeing.  

This working paper supports the quantitative analysis used to inform the findings and recommendations of the Commission’s inquiry into economic inclusion and social mobility – A Fair Chance for All: Breaking the cycle of persistent disadvantage. 

Although internationally published articles on this topic focuses on measures of multidimensional disadvantage, it is unclear if distinguishing these different dimensions is meaningful or useful. To examine this issue further, the paper uses the different dimensions of disadvantage in regression analysis to better understand if certain dimensions could potentially affect people’s lives differently by examining the relationship between the disadvantage dimensions and wellbeing.  

Our research indicates that looking at these dimensions separately could lead to different policy insights. The results in the paper are not causal, and therefore, it is not possible to determine from these results, if disadvantage leads to lower wellbeing or vice versa. This paper does, however, show there are distinct dimensions of disadvantage and some of these aspects of disadvantage could have a greater impact on wellbeing than others.  

Measures that highlight the multidimensional nature of disadvantage should be used to the greatest extent possible to help us to better understand how trends in disadvantage and mobility may affect individuals, different population groups and wider society. 


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