Theorists and the Poor Law

  • Created by: Isabella
  • Created on: 02-05-13 14:11

Thomas Malthus' beliefs

Economist specialising in the study of population

The population had a tendency to rise and outstrip all avaiable food supplies

Poor Law made it worse- the poor had more children to receive more relief

Wanted abolition of the Poor Law

Small families- no financial advanatges

Wage rise- poor rate no longer levied 

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David Ricardo's beliefs

Political economist

Favoured aboliton of the Poor Law

Believed that there was a "wages fund" from which for wages and pooor was paid

Therefore, the more paid out in relief leaves less avaiable for wages

Leads to more and more to be drawn into pauperism- draining the fund

Only way to break the cycle was getting rid of the Poor Law                                

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Tom Paine's beliefs

Writer and Republican

Proposed a propetry tax on the very rich

That money could be used for various support systems

Like family allowances and old age pensions

Did not like the able bodied poor

Implied that they had to go into the workhouse before receiving relief


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Roberts Owen's beliefs

Radical factory owner

Blamed the capitalist system and the factory system for povetry

Bought his ideas into work on his New Lanark site, created a community with: No adult was to work for than 10 and 1/2 hours a day, sick pay provided, children had to be educated until the age of 10 before working in his factory and no corporal punishment for adults

He made a profit, because no needed poor relief was needed, only for the impotent poor

His suggestions: "If everyone were employed in a co-op community, everyone would receive a share in the profits of the organisation they work for"


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Jeremy Bentham's beliefs

Philosopher and lawyer

"Any society should be organised so as to enable the greatest amount of happiness to be delievred to the greatest number of people"- Utilitarianism

Achieved if wages and prices found their "true level" in a free market

State instutions controlled centrally to agreed standards

Responsbility for poor private company

Outdoor relief gone

Favoured the industry, conditions so bad that only the genuinely needy would enter

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Edwin Chadwick's beliefs

Follower of Bentham

Agreed with Bentham- people kept in wotkhouses in bad condtions so only who were desperate would enter

Others seek work outside the workhouse

Also, centralised, controlling authorative figure

These two things would reduce the poor rate

Give relief to only actually needy and ensure the economy flourished by allowing wages and prices to find their true levels 

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