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Social indicators are an important tool for evaluating a country's level of social development and for assessing the impact of policy. Such indicators are already in use in investigating poverty and social exclusion in several European countries and have begun to play a significant role in advancing the social dimension of the European Union as a whole. The purpose of this book is to make a scientific contribution to the development of social indicators for the purposes of European policy-making. It considers the principles underlying the construction of policy-relevant indicators, the definition of indicators, and the issues that arise in their implementation, including that of the statistical data required. It seeks to bring together theoretical and methodological methods in the measurement of poverty/social exclusion with the empirical practice of social policy. The experience of Member States is reviewed, including an assessment of the National Action Plans on Social Inclusion submitted for the first time in June 2001 by the fifteen EU governments.
The key areas covered by the book are poverty, including its intensity and persistence, income inequality, non-monetary deprivation, low educational attainment, unemployment, joblessness, poor health, poor housing and homelessness, functional illiteracy and innumeracy, and restricted social participation. In each case, the book assesses the strengths and weaknesses of different indicators relevant to social inclusion in the European Union, and makes recommendations for the indicators to be employed. Indicators for Social Inclusion in the European Union is being published at a critical stage in the evolution of the social agenda of the European Union. It is hoped that the report will play a role in widening public debate about the social dimension of Europe and that it will be of value to the social partners, to non-governmental and grass roots organizations, and to those living in poverty and social exclusion. It seeks to provide both a constructive background document at a crucial juncture in the evolution of the social dimension of the European Union and a reference work of continuing value.
Tony Atkinson is Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford.
Bea Cantillon is Professor and Director of the Centre for Social Policy at the University of Antwerp.
Eric Marlier is expert in social statistics and international scientific co-ordinator for Belgian Ministers Vande Lanotte and Vandenbroucke.
Brian Nolan is Research Professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin.