Measuring Differences in Living Standards Within Households


  • This article was edited by Fran Bennett.

School of Social Justice, James Joyce Library Building, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4 Ireland (


This article presents a quantitative approach used to investigate differences in living standards between spouses within households. Adopting a specially adapted, standard poverty measurement approach—nonmonetary indicators—it explores differences between spouses in terms of possessions and access to certain goods and services and the control and management of household resources. Using data from a unique module in the Living in Ireland Survey (N = 2,248 individuals) as an exemplar, the article focuses on 3 methodological issues: (a) the development of specially designed nonmonetary indicators to explore differences in living standards within households rather than between households (including the role played by qualitative findings in developing those indicators and how focus groups were used to assess and validate the method), (b) the use of multivariate analysis to assess the impact of a wife's independent income in ameliorating differences in living standards between spouses, and (c) the deployment of a mechanism for use in quantitative surveys to record spousal presence and allow measurement of any subsequent difference in individual responses.