The Rise of Economic Insecurity in the EU: Concepts and Measures

TitleThe Rise of Economic Insecurity in the EU: Concepts and Measures
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsRanci, C, Parma, A, Bernardi, L, Beckfield, J
JournalLIVES Working Paper
Keywordsclass, family, inequality, poverty, social structure, welfare state

Economic instability, an array of social changes, and welfare state retrenchment place the question of economic insecurity high on the scholarly and political agenda. We contribute to these debates by drawing conceptual distinctions between inequality and insecurity. Fundamentally, inequality concerns the distribution of resources across individuals, while insecurity concerns exposure to multiple social risks that can deteriorate living conditions. The multiplicity and dynamism of insecurity inform our development of a new measure of economic insecurity, using longitudinal data from the EU-SILC database. Substantively, we then use our new measure to analyze the distribution of insecurity in Europe. Our analysis shows that insecurity is widespread across Europe, affecting countries with different inequality and welfare structures. Second, it is widespread across the income distribution and social classes affecting a relevant part of the middle classes. This result suggests that the European Social Model is increasingly failing to insulate households from economic insecurity.

Citation Key3200