Social exclusion and poverty

Income poverty has traditionally been used to measure disadvantage in society. 

Social exclusion is a more effective measurement because it takes into account many factors, not simply income.

The graph below shows the trends of social exclusion, for both marginal social exclusion and deep social exclusion, compared with income poverty from 2008 to 2017.

The widely used income-poverty measure in the graph is calculated not by a fixed amount of income but in relative terms, as household income of less than 60% of the median household income. If everyone’s income increases at the same rate, the level of income poverty stays constant.

Our social exclusion measure, by contrast, includes relative and absolute components. It reflects changes not only in income but also in unemployment, literacy, health and social factors which affect people’s opportunities and quality of life.

Over the period from 2008 to 2017, the percentage of adults in relative income poverty has remained fairly stable. By contrast, the level of social exclusion rose from 22% in 2008 to 25% in 2010, and has remained above 24% since then.

Relative income poverty is an important concern and needs to be tackled. However the broader concept of social exclusion allows policy makers to consider many overlapping issues, such as unemployment, poor health and inadequate education, when trying to reduce disadvantage within the community.

To copy this graph for your own use, right-click on the image (or control-click on a Mac) and paste the graph into your document. Please credit 'The Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Melbourne Institute 2019'.

See data table for this graph and note on updated indicators

Read also in Measuring social exclusion: Depth of social exclusion » Persistence of social exclusion »

The social exclusion monitor is the work of the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (MIAESR). This page was updated using analysis of Wave 17 of the HILDA Survey in November 2019.

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