Material deprivation refers to a state of economic strain and durables, defined as the enforced inability (rather than the choice not to do so) to pay unexpected expenses, afford a one-week annual holiday away from home, a meal involving meat, chicken or fish every second day, the adequate heating of a dwelling, durable goods like a washing machine, colour television, telephone or car, being confronted with payment arrears (mortgage or rent, utility bills, hire purchase instalments or other loan payments).
The material deprivation rate is an indicator in EU-SILC that expresses the inability to afford some items considered by most people to be desirable or even necessary to lead an adequate life. The indicator distinguishes between individuals who cannot afford a certain good or service, and those who do not have this good or service for another reason, e.g. because they do not want or do not need it.
The indicator adopted by the Social protection committee measures the percentage of the population that cannot afford at least three of the following nine items:
- to pay their rent, mortgage or utility bills;
- to keep their home adequately warm;
- to face unexpected expenses;
- to eat meat or proteins regularly;
- to go on holiday;
- a television set;
- a washing machine;
- a car;
- a telephone.
Severe material deprivation rate is defined as the enforced inability to pay for at least four of the above-mentioned items.
Persistent material deprivation rate is defined as the enforced inability to pay for at least three (material deprivation) or four (severe material deprivation) of the above-mentioned items in the current year and at least two out of the preceding three years. Its calculation requires a longitudinal instrument, through which the individuals are followed over four years.