Poverty is a multidimensional concept that, besides the economic status and financial resources, should consider the lack of access to resources enabling a minimum standard of living and participation in society. In particular, elderly people are likely to require help with some or everyday activities and the total costs of this help can be very high and absorb a significant amount of their income, especially when they are alone and not in good health.

Poverty is one of the most significant social problems in Organization for Economic Cooperation and development (OECD) countries. The focus on financial resources alone does not capture people’s quality of life as being poor means a lack of access to resources enabling a minimum standard of living and participation in societies: thus, a multidimensional approach is needed.  Socio-economic vulnerability is accompanied by social networks impoverishment, and those in low socio-economic status have less chance of obtaining social support, e.g., in terms of needed care.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and development (OECD) countries

Populations in OECD countries are ageing rapidly, their health worsens, and they may struggle with everyday activities. Incomes of the elderly are generally low: 23% of older people are likely to be at risk of relative income poverty, the same figure being 18% in the overall population, and this phenomenon interests 25 out of 35 OECD countries. The financial challenges faced by older people with Long-Term Care LTC needs can be very high and absorb a significant amount of their income. However, income based indicators are poor proxies of material conditions among the elderly whereas non-monetary ones improve our understanding of who is poor, with a shift from an unidimensional to a multidimensional approach.

In 2010 the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), was officially published by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative in collaboration with Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The MPI Indicator is the first attempt to represent the multidimensional poverty. It considers poverty through ten indicators divided into three dimensions: health, education and standard of living.

Immagine tratta da UNDP

A number of methodologies to assess poverty from a multidimensional perspective exist, including methods aiming to implement aggregate data from different sources, and statistical approaches – i.e., principal component analysis, or cluster analysis – which reflect the joint distribution of single deprivation indicators and aim to a bottom-up definition of synthetic scales.

Such approaches are adequate if they enable to capture the joint distribution of deprivations, identify the poor ones (i.e., dichotomizing the population into poor and non-poor), and provide a single cardinal figure to assess poverty.


The AMPEL project relies not only on income and wealth but also on material and social deprivation that are rarely collected or known by public welfare institutions, making it difficult to intercept those who require more support. The material deprivation captures the ability of individuals and households to afford specific types of goods and services, whereas social deprivation refers to a systematic exclusion of individuals, families and groups from participation in economic, political and social activities.

The project starts from the analysis of a dataset on the elderly in Lombardy, which records their major needs, requests for assistance, and information about their social network, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. These data are cross-linked and integrated with other existing relevant data (such as the open access data from the selected municipalities, statistics, economic and health status conditions) and will be complemented with new data collected through dedicated questionnaires administered to the elderly to capture new indicators useful to predict the risk of poverty.

 The final aim of the project is to categorize the elderly risk of poverty by using the metaphor of an alert semaphore (“ampel” in German) as red, yellow and green code, i.e., major, moderate and low or zero risk, thus providing a quick and exploitable prioritization outcome, that can be exploited by welfare policy makers for poverty eradication and health promotion, especially to guide actions in case of emergency situations, such as COVID-19 pandemic.