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Seebohm Rowntree and the Post-War Poverty Puzzle

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  • Bailey, Roy E
  • Hatton, Timothy J.

Abstract

In his third social survey of York carried out in 1950, Seebohm Rowntree reported a steep decline since 1936 of the percentage of households in poverty. He attributed the bulk of this decline to government welfare reforms enacted during and after the War. Some observers have been uneasy about these striking results, especially with the rediscovery of poverty in the 1960s. In this paper we re-examine the surviving records from the 1950 survey, making the poverty line more consistent with that of 1936 and looking more closely at the measurement of income. We also re-assess the impact of welfare reforms on working class poverty. We find that poverty in York was significantly higher, and the contribution of welfare reform substantially less, than was originally reported. These findings suggest a less optimistic view of the impact of welfare reforms during the Beveridge era.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 2147.

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Date of creation: May 1999
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2147

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Keywords: Post-War Britain; Poverty; Seebohm Rowntree; Social Security; Social Surveys;

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  1. Hatton, Timothy J., 1986. "Female Labour Force Participation: The Enigma of the Interwar Period," CEPR Discussion Papers 113, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Hatton, Timothy J & Bailey, Roy E, 2002. "Unemployment Incidence in Interwar London," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 69(276), pages 631-54, November.
  3. Hatton, Timothy J & Bailey, Roy E, 1998. "Poverty and the Welfare State in Interwar London," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 574-606, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Celso Nunes, 2008. "The Economic Thought on Poverty Measurement: From the Nineteenth-Century to the Rediscovering Era," Working Papers 92, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  2. Gazeley, Ian & Newell, Andrew T., 2007. "Poverty in Britain in 1904: An Early Social Survey Rediscovered," IZA Discussion Papers 3046, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A. & Hatton, Timothy J. & Martin, Richard M., 2007. "Childhood Economic Conditions and Length of Life: Evidence from the UK Boyd Orr Cohort, 1937–2005," IZA Discussion Papers 3042, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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