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Poverty In Britain In 1904: An Early Social Survey Rediscovered

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  • Ian Gazeley

    ()

  • Andrew Newell

    ()
    (Poverty Research Unit at Sussex, Department of Economics, University of Sussex)

Abstract

Until now there have been no national estimates of the extent of poverty in Britain at the turn of the 20th century. This paper introduces a newly-discovered household budget data set for the early 1900s that is more representative of urban working households in Britain in the period than any other existing record, although not without deficiencies. We use these data to estimate urban poverty among working families in the British Isles in 1904. Applying Bowley’s poverty line we find that about fifteen percent of people in urban working class households had income insufficient to meet minimum needs. This is close to Rowntree’s estimate of primary poverty for York 1899 and in the range that Bowley found in Northern towns in 1912-3. This average masks a heavy concentration of poverty among the unskilled and those with large families.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Poverty Research Unit at Sussex, University of Sussex in its series PRUS Working Papers with number 38.

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Length: 29
Date of creation: Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pru:wpaper:38

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Postal: School of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9SN
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Web page: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/Units/PRU/
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Keywords: Inequality; Poverty; Household Data; Great Britain;

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References

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  1. Lancaster, G. & Ray, R., 2000. "International Poverty Comparisons on Unit Record Data of Developing and Developed Countries," Papers 2000-1, Tasmania - Department of Economics.
  2. Ian Gazeley, 1989. "The cost of living for urban workers in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 42(2), pages 207-221, 05.
  3. Bailey, Roy E & Hatton, Timothy J., 1999. "Seebohm Rowntree and the Post-War Poverty Puzzle," CEPR Discussion Papers 2147, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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Cited by:
  1. Hatton, Timothy J. & Martin, Richard M., 2010. "Fertility decline and the heights of children in Britain, 1886-1938," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 505-519, October.
  2. Gazeley, Ian & Newell, Andrew T., 2009. "No Room to Live: Urban Overcrowding in Edwardian Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 4209, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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