Walls of Glass: Measuring Deprivation in Social Participation

OPHI Working Papers

This paper proposes a measure for deprivation in social participation, an important but so far neglected dimension of human well-being. Operationalisation and empirical implementation of the measure are conceptually guided by the capability approach. Essentially, the paper argues that deprivation in social participation can often be convincingly established by drawing on extensive non-participation in customary social activities. In doing so, the present paper synthesizes philosophical considerations, axiomatic research on poverty and deprivation, and previous empirical research on social exclusion and subjective well-being. An application using high-quality survey data for Germany supports the measure’s validity. Specifically, the results suggest, as theoretically expected, that the proposed measure is systematically different from related concepts like material deprivation and income poverty. Moreover, regression techniques reveal deprivation in social participation to reduce life satisfaction substantially, quantitatively similar to unemployment. Finally, questions like preference vs. deprivation, cross-country comparisons, and the measure’s suitability as a social indicator are discussed.

Citation: Suppa, N. (2018). ‘Walls of glass: Measuring deprivation in social participation’, OPHI Working Paper 117, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

Former OPHI Research in Progress paper No. 49a.

social participation, capability approach, deprivation, life satisfaction, multidimensional poverty, SOEP

Walls of Glass: Measuring Deprivation in Social Participation

Nicolai Suppa
Series Name
OPHI Working Papers
Publication date
JEL Codes
D63, I32
Publication Number
WP 117