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Social Sciences Research Methods Programme | SSRMP



Data Behind the Headlines is a public programme of talks presented by the Social Sciences Research Methods Programme (SSRMP) at Cambridge University. We will explore how the application of research methods and data analysis impacts on the way we understand and address the most pressing and current social issues.


ONLINE LECTURE | Fri 20 May 2022, 1-2pm

Grounding the Cost of Living in the Real World
Abigail Davis and Matt Padley

The cost of living crisis is a widely used expression and a current issue attracting substantial media coverage and political debate. But what does ‘the cost of living’ actually mean?

Looking at changes in the price of a pint of milk or a loaf of bread make for a news item that is relatable to most of us, but this is only a partial picture of what is going on. One way of really understanding what living in our society costs, is to identify and describe a recognisable standard of living and then to work out how much it costs to meet this standard. Since 2008 Minimum Income Standard (MIS) research has provided a publicly determined and agreed benchmark for a socially acceptable living standard in the UK, updated annually to take account of changes in prices and changes in social norms and expectations. Our data show what happens to minimum household budgets as prices rise and fall and needs change over time. Our analysis shows how wages, benefits and pensions stack up and how near or far households are from meeting their minimum needs, as well as who is most likely to fall below this standard.

In this talk Abigail Davis and Matt Padley explain what MIS is, how it is constructed and what it tells us about the current cost of living crisis – who is most at risk and why.



Abigail Davis is Co-Director of CRSP and Senior Research Fellow. She has been part of the Minimum Income Standards (MIS) team since the programme began in 2006 and is responsible for the core primary research on MIS. She leads the development and delivery of training in the MIS methodology for international teams including MIS projects in Austria, France, Ireland, Japan, Portugal, South Africa, Mexico, Singapore and Thailand.



Matt Padley is Co-Director of CRSP and Senior Research Fellow. Matt has been part of the MIS team since 2009, and currently leads on data analysis, the application and use of MIS data, and the development of MIS in the UK and globally. Building on MIS, he has pioneered work on retirement living standards in the UK, and also leads work on living standards in London. He has worked with colleagues in Mexico, Singapore, Portugal, Thailand and South Africa, supporting the development and application of MIS in these countries.