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A multidimensional approach to measuring economic insecurity

Working Paper 2021-591

Abstract

This paper proposes a strategy to measure economic insecurity in countries in the Global South. It builds a ‘Multidimensional Economic Insecurity Index’ (MEII) that combines four indicators of economic vulnerability that cause stress and anxiety: unexpected economic shocks, unprotected employment or non-workers in the household, over-indebtedness and asset poverty. The index offers a measure that directly relates economic uncertainty to stress and anxiety due to the lack of protection and buffers to face an unexpected economic shock. The MEII is applied to Chile using Survey of Household Finances (SHF) cross-sectional data (2007, 2011, 2014 and 2017). The results show that i) about half of the Chilean households experienced, on average, two or more economic vulnerabilities during the last decade with an intensity of 2.3 vulnerabilities, and ii) economic insecurity affects households on the entire income distribution, even in the highest income deciles groups. By identifying the groups of households most affected by economic insecurity and its trend in recent years, applying the MEII in countries such as Chile provides relevant information to monitor, evaluate and improve social safety nets besides labour market regulations.

Authors: JoaquΓ­n Prieto.

Keywords: Economic insecurity, Global South, multidimensional index, Survey of Households Finances, Well-being
JEL: D63, I31