BES - Benessere Equo e Sostenibile


Basic Concepts

Earning capacities and economic resources are not seen as an end but rather as a mean by which an individual is able to obtain and to support a specific standard of living. Variables which can help measuring the economic well-being include income, wealth, spending on consumer goods, housing conditions and ownership of durable goods. As for most of the other dimensions of well-being, it is important to go over the mere study of mean or median levels of the chosen indicators, evaluating also the distribution among population: the judgment on the level of material well-being of a society can change if the same overall mean income is equally divided among citizens or it is concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy people.


Dimensions considered to represent the domain

The domain was divided into two sub-dimensions:

  1. Available income and wealth. The income can be seen as the return of the assets individuals have at their disposal, real, financial and human. In a market economy, income measures the purchasing power of individuals and it is therefore a very significant variable in estimating the level of economic well-being. Wealth, as well as guaranteeing income, reduces insecurity, making people less vulnerable to the possible negative events that may affect them; it facilitate access to credit, and therefore allows people both to equilibrate their consumption pattern along the life cycle and to invest in physical and human capital; it confers social prestige. This sub-dimension also includes the analysis of debt.
  2. Expenditure on consumption and material conditions of life. Expenditure on consumption represents a direct estimate of goods and services that determine living conditions of an individual or a household, even if interpersonal comparisons are affected by differences in preferences and individual habits. Expenditure is strongly correlated to income. Material life conditions measure what is available in practice to individuals and the difficulties they encounter in acquiring the desired goods and services, capturing aspects that could not be detected by the level of income or consumption.


List of the best indicators

  1. Per capita adjusted disposable income: Ratio of adjusted household disposable income (inclusive of the value of in-kind services provided by public and non-profit institutions) to the total number of residents.
  2. Disposable income inequality: Ratio of total equivalised income received by the 20% of the population with the highest income to that received by the 20% of the population with the lowest income.
  3. People at risk of relative poverty:Percentage of persons at risk of poverty, with an equivalised income less than or equal to 60% of the median equivalised income.
  4. Per capita net wealth: Ratio of total net wealth of households to the total number of residents..
  5. People living in financially vulnerable households: Percentage of people in households with debt service greater than 30% of disposable income.
  6. People living in absolute poverty: Proportion of individuals belonging to households with consumption expenditure below the threshold of absolute poverty
  7. Severely materially deprived people: Proportion of people living in households with at least 4 out of 9 deprivation items.
  8. People suffering poor housing conditions: Proportion of people experiencing overcrowding in houses without some services and with structural problems.
  9. Index of subjective evaluation of economic distress: It combines three indicators: (a) share of individuals living in households answering “with great difficulty” to the question "Considering all the available income, how does your household manage to get to the end of the month?"; (b) proportion of individuals living in households with insufficient resources to face an unexpected expense of a given amount, fixed as a fraction of the median of the distribution of previous year equivalised income; (c) share of individuals who expect to be unable to make savings in the next 12 months.
  10. People living in jobless households: Proportion of individuals living in households with at least one component aged 18-59 years (with the exception of households where all members are full time students under 25 years) where nobody works or receives an occupational pension.


Indicators under evaluation

  1. Index of economic vulnerability of household adult members: Share of individual income on household income. The purpose of the indicator is to capture the degree of independence of each adult member of a family and its vulnerability with respect to unforeseen events. The typologies of income to be included and the household members that need to be considered in the analysis are under study. In particular, the indicator could focus only on the income earned by the partners in a couple, or also on the income received by children and other household members.
  2. Index of deprivation of children: Percentage of children who do not have access to child-specific goods and services. The indicator mimics the indicator of severe material deprivation, but considers goods and services for the specific needs of children. Currently, there is a national survey that collects all needed information for the construction of this indicator. It is under evaluation the definition of specific indicators of child deprivation to be measured on a comparable basis with the Eu-Silc survey: a pilot module will be tested on a voluntary basis by some countries (including Italy) in the 2013 wave, while a specific module will be included in the 2014 wave. In addition to the lack of goods such as books, computers, clothes and shoes, these indicators will measure nutritional deprivation and deprivation in terms of places for play and socialization.
eFrame Project
Rapporto UrBes
BES delle Province