Definitions and measures of povery

absolute, relative and social exclusion, along with their measures

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Defining and Measuring Poverty
KEY: Advantages, Disadvantages
The lack of the minimum requirements for survival
An individual is in absolute poverty if they don't have the income to afford the basic necessities ­
food, warmth and shelter. By this definition there are very few individuals in the UK in poverty
Rowntree set up the first major studies of poverty in the UK in 1899
He made a list of essentials needed for life and recorded how many families could afford them.
Those whose income was too low were classed as in poverty
Always measured on the same scale
Easy to compare statistics from different groups
Gives a better idea of the standard of life in developed countries
His definition didn't allow for any wasted food
Assumed the cheapest options were always available
Didn't match the lifestyle of the folk he studied
Assumes that everyone has the same basic needs
Budget Standard Measure
Devised by Bradshaw 1990
Used an approach similar to Rowntree's ideas of absolute poverty
Studied the spending patterns of the least wealthy and used those patterns to calculate an
adequate budget
Anyone earning less than the adequate budget was classed as "poor"
Gives clear and unambiguous statistics that are easy to compare
Bradshaw set a very low "adequate budget", so his conclusions are not a true reflection in
Developed by Townsend 1979
Devised a "Deprivation index" ­ a list of 60 things central to life in the UK including social
activities and possessions
He selected 12 that he thought were equally essential to the whole population
He gave each household a deprivation score- whether or not they had the items on his shortlist
of 12 items
Found that the deprivation score went up rapidly after wealth dropped below a certain
All households that earnt below the threshold as "suffering from poverty"

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Calculated that 22.9% of the population were suffering from relative poverty
Takes into account people's expectations and the subjective quality of their lives
Gives more realistic picture of the relative deprivation that is caused by inequalities in society
Piachaud 1987 argued that Townsend's deprivation index is too subjective and culturally biased
Wedderburn argues that he should have carried out research into the customary behaviour of
people in society.…read more

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Townsend amended his definition of poverty to argue that poverty turned into social exclusion
when it denied people full membership of society
This also coincided with the European Commission rejecting the idea that poverty in any
meaningful financial sense continued to exist
The Commission saw a wide range of extreme inequalities in European societies which could not
be remedied solely by increasing the income of the poor
This is the crucial distinction between the ideas of poverty and of social exclusion.…read more


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