Free Access
Volume 15, Number 2, 2001
Page(s) 69 - 84
DOI: 10.1051/ejess:2001116

European Journal of Economic and Social Systems 15 N° 2 (2001) 69-84

Living conditions: Classification of households using the Kohonen algorithm

Sophie Ponthieux1 and Marie Cottrell2

1  INSEE, Division "Conditions de vie des ménages " - Timbre F340, 18 bd A. Pinard, 75675 Paris Cedex 14, France. E-mail:
2  SAMOS-MATISSE, Université de Paris 1, 90 rue de Tolbiac, 75634 Paris Cedex 13, France. E-mail:

In the analysis of poverty and social exclusion, indicators of living conditions are some interesting non-monetary complements to the usual measurements in terms of current or annual income. Living conditions depend in fact on longer-term factors than income, and provide further information on house-holds' actual resources that allow to compare more accurately between living standards. But in counterpart, a difficulty comes from the qualitative nature of the information, and the large number of dimensions and items that may be taken into account; in other words, living conditions are difficult to "measure" . A consequence is that very often, the information is either used only partly, or reduced into a global score of (bad) living conditions, that results from counting "negative" items, and the qualitative dimension is lost. In this paper, we propose to use the Kohonen algorithm first to describe how the elements of living conditions are combined, and secondly to classify households according to their living conditions. The main interest of a classification is to make appear not only quantitative differences in the "levels" of living conditions, but also qualitative differences within similar "levels" .

Key words: Kohonen algorithm, SOM, living conditions

© EDP Sciences 2001