Fighting social exclusion in rural areas
[ Summary ]
Social exclusion, a multidimensional phenomenon
1.4 How can poverty and social
exclusion be measured?
Confronted with the magnitude of the phenomenon of exclusion and
with the impossibility of reducing unemployment and the social
havoc it causes, a lot of governments are beginning to worry and to
consider other forms of treatment .
Therefore, the problem now is first to determine how many Europeans
are living in conditions of poverty or social exclusion. To answer
this, a conventional indicator of poverty is usually used, ie. the
percentage of households or individuals with less than half the
median income. Although for some social categories suffering from
exclusion (ethnic minorities, elderly people, people living alone)
this indicator is not always relevant, statistics show that single
parents, single-parent families, elderly people living alone and
the unemployed account for the majority of low-income people.
Social exclusion can also be found in certain geographical
locations like the neglected outskirts of certain cities, urban
ghettos, remote rural areas, or peripheral areas. When a large
number of poor people or people suffering from the same forms of
exclusion are concentrated in these same areas, exclusion becomes
visible. However, many of those excluded are scattered and
therefore “invisible” for society .
The concentration of the excluded, in other words visible
exclusion, remains a mostly urban phenomenon. It is found
particularly in neighbourhoods where there is a high concentration
of immigrants or minorities, where the ethnic identity plays a
major role in mutual recognition while itself being a factor of
exclusion. On the other hand, in rural areas exclusion is less
visible, because it is more spread out or even sometimes hidden.
That is why in spite of the similarity of the problems, a
distinction has to be made between city and country, both in terms
of the approach and the policies to fight social exclusion.
 Thus in March 1999, the British government
set itself the objective of eradicating poverty among
children. To this end, the social security services
implemented 49 key initiatives and 40 poverty
indicators to measure the impact of their interventions -
the number of indicators itself being an indication of
the complexity of the phenomenon and the difficulty of
the public authorities of grasping the whole problem
and providing standardised answers.
 Paul Henderson, Social Inclusion &
Citizenship in Europe, The contribution of community
development, 1997, OPBOUWCAHIER 5.