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Whither poverty in Great Britain and the United States? The determinants of changing poverty and whether work will work

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  • Richard Dickens
  • David T. Ellwood
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    Abstract

    We provide a comparison of poverty levels in Britain and the US based on a set of common definitions. We then ask what factors û demographic, economic, or policy û account for the observed changes in poverty in the two nations and what role could policy play in reducing poverty? We find that the forces influencing poverty differ between nations and across absolute and relative poverty measures. Demographic and wage change is a dominant force in both nations. Government benefits reduced relative and absolute poverty considerably in Britain over this period but had little impact in the US. However, policy changes may have significantly increased work in the US, particularly among single parents, whereas in Britain they may have had the reverse effect. The UK government has committed itself to reducing child poverty by half over the next 10 years and to its abolition within 20 years. We conclude that any purely work-based strategy, which doesn''t tackle demographics and wage dispersion, may not have a dramatic effect on relative poverty.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/20109/
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 20109.

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    Length: 74 pages
    Date of creation: Aug 2001
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:20109

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    1. Moffitt, Robert, 1986. "The Econometrics of Piecewise-Linear Budget Constraints: A Survey and Exposition of the Maximum Likelihood Method," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 4(3), pages 317-28, July.
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    3. Bingley, Paul & Walker, Ian, 1997. "The Labour Supply, Unemployment and Participation of Lone Mothers in In-Work Transfer Programmes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(444), pages 1375-90, September.
    4. David Piachaud & Holly Sutherland & UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2000. "How Effective is the British Government's Attempt to Reduce Child Poverty?," Innocenti Working Papers inwopa00/6, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
    5. Nada Eissa & Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 1998. "The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Labor Supply of Married Couples," NBER Working Papers 6856, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Julian McCrae & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The labour market impact of the working families’ tax credit," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 75-103, March.
    7. Jonathan Gruber & Jeffrey D. Kubik, 1994. "Disability Insurance Rejection Rates and the Labor Supply of Older Workers," NBER Working Papers 4941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. McClements, L. D., 1977. "Equivalence scales for children," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 191-210, October.
    9. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Julian McCrae & Costas Meghir, 2000. "Evaluating In-Work Benefit Reform: The Working Families Tax Credit in the U.K," JCPR Working Papers 160, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    10. Rebecca M. Blank & David Card, 1993. "Poverty, Income Distribution, and Growth: Are They Still Connected," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 24(2), pages 285-340.
    11. Eissa, Nada & Liebman, Jeffrey B, 1996. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 605-37, May.
    12. Nolan, Brian, 1986. "Unemployment and the Size Distribution of Income," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 53(212), pages 421-45, November.
    13. Blundell, Richard, 2000. "Work Incentives and 'In-Work' Benefit Reforms: A Review," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 27-44, Spring.
    14. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
    15. Bound, John & Waidmann, Timothy, 1992. "Disability Transfers, Self-Reported Health, and the Labor Force Attachment of Older Men: Evidence from the Historical Record," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1393-419, November.
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    Cited by:
    1. Osberg, Lars, 2002. "Trends in poverty: the UK in international perspective: how rates mislead and intensity matters," ISER Working Paper Series 2002-10, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    2. Aassve, Arnstein & Burgess, Simon & Dickson, Matt & Propper, Carol, 2005. "Modelling poverty by not modelling poverty: an application of a simultaneous hazards approach to the UK," ISER Working Paper Series 2005-26, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    3. Ian Irvine & Kuan Xu, 2002. "Crime, Punishment and Poverty in the United States," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive uspov, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
    4. Richard Blundell & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2004. "Has 'In-Work' Benefit Reform Helped the Labor Market?," NBER Chapters, in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 411-460 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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