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Eradicating Child Poverty in Britain: Welfare Reform and Children Since 1997

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  • Mike Brewer
  • Paul Gregg

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Abstract

In 1997 the new Labour government in the UK inherited a situation where nearly one in 5 children lived in a household where no adult worked and around one in 3 lived in relative poverty. Children had replaced pensioners as the poorest group in society. The incoming government set about an ambitious set of reforms designed to reduce poverty and worklessness amongst families with children. This policy reform agenda contained some features akin to the welfare reform process being undertaken in the US since 1996. But with one fundamental difference, that welfare payments to jobless families rose rapidly and there is no time restriction in access to these payments. This paper describes the key features of the welfare reform process and documents the reforms to welfare payments and in particular contrasts them with the US system. The results show that the reformed UK welfare support system, taxes and benefits, for children is more generous to low-income families with children but less for better off families. So the UK system is more progressive among families with children. The paper goes on to look at the emerging evidence of the impact of the UK policy reform process on poverty and welfare dependence.

Suggested Citation

  • Mike Brewer & Paul Gregg, 2002. "Eradicating Child Poverty in Britain: Welfare Reform and Children Since 1997," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 02/052, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:02/052
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Bennett, Roger, 2007. "Advertising message strategies for encouraging young White working class males to consider entering British universities," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 60(9), pages 932-941, September.
    2. repec:ces:ifodic:v:1:y:2003:i:2:p:14567956 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Wolfgang Ochel, 2003. "Welfare to Work in the United Kingdom," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 1(2), pages 56-62, 02.
    4. Wolfgang Ochel, 2001. "Financial Incentives to Work - Conceptions and Results in Great Britain, Ireland and Canada," CESifo Working Paper Series 627, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Gregg, Paul & Waldfogel, Jane & Washbrook, Elizabeth, 2006. "Family expenditures post-welfare reform in the UK: Are low-income families starting to catch up?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 721-746, December.
    6. Callan, Tim & Keeney, Mary J. & Nolan, Brian & Maitre, Bertrand, 2004. "Why is Relative Income Poverty so High in Ireland?," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS53.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    welfare reform; poverty; children;

    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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