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Do we need an age specific measure of consensual poverty for older adults? Evidence from the poverty and social exclusion survey
  1. Lucy K Smith1,
  2. Ruth M Hancock2
  1. 1Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  2. 2Nuffield Community Care Studies Unit, Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr L K Smith
 Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, 22–28 Princess Road West, Leicester LE1 6TP, UK;

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Research on health inequalities among older adults is hampered by the lack of a suitable measure of poverty in this age group.1,2 Grundy and Holt1 have recommended the development of a measure for studying health inequalities in older people, which combines basic living conditions and social customs3 with household resources. The 1999 poverty and social exclusion omnibus survey (PSEOS)4 yields data that have been used to devise such a measure based on the consensual approach, that is “deprivation from goods, services and activities which the majority of the population defines as being the ‘necessities’ of modern life”.4 Some exploration of age variations in the perceptions of necessities has been carried out by Gordon et al5 focusing on differences among 16 to 24 year olds. Here we extend the use of PSEOS data to establish whether older and younger adults agree on consensual measures of poverty.


The 1999 PSEOS asked a representative sample of British people aged 16 and over and living in private households (1855 respondents) to determine which items from a list of 54 “all adults should be able to afford and which they should not have to do without”1 classifying them as “necessary” or “not necessary”. The PSEOS categorised items as necessities where more than 50% of …

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  • Funding: this work was undertaken by Lucy Smith and Ruth Hancock at the University of Leicester who received funding from the Department of Health.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

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