IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cep/cepdps/dp0579.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Poverty and Worklessness in Britain

Author

Listed:
  • Stephen Nickell

Abstract

Relative poverty in the UK has risen massively since 1979 mainly because of increasing worklessness, rising earnings dispersion and benefits indexed to prices, not wages. So poverty is now at a very high level. The economic forces underlying this are the significant shift in demand against the unskilled which has outpaced the shift in relative supply in the same direction. This has substantially weakened the low-skill labour market which has increased both pay dispersion and worklessness, particularly among low-skilled men. The whole situation has been exacerbated by the very long tail in the skill distribution, so that over 20 per cent of the working age population have very low skills indeed (close to illiterate). Practical policies discussed include improving education and overall well-being for children in the lower part of the ability range, raising wage floors, New Deal policies, tax credits and benefits for the workless. Overall, I would argue that without reducing the long tail in the skill distribution, there is no practical possibility of policy reducing relative poverty to 1979 levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Nickell, 2003. "Poverty and Worklessness in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0579, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0579
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp0579.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Cross-Country Inequality Trends," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 121-149, February.
    2. Nickell, Stephen & Layard, Richard, 1999. "Labor market institutions and economic performance," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 46, pages 3029-3084, Elsevier.
    3. Nickell, Stephen, 2003. "A picture of European unemployment: success and failure," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20039, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Stephen Nickell & Glenda Quintini, 2002. "The Consequences of The Decline in Public Sector Pay in Britain: A Little Bit of Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(477), pages 107-118, February.
    5. Gregory, Mary & Salverda, Wiemer & Bazen, Stephen (ed.), 2000. "Labour Market Inequalities: Problems and Policies of Low-Wage Employment in International Perspective," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199241699, April.
    6. Dickens & David T. Ellwood, 2004. "Whither Poverty in Great Britain and the United States? The Determinants of Changing Poverty and Whether Work Will Work," NBER Chapters, in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 313-370, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Wood Júnior, Thomaz, 1995. "Workers," RAE - Revista de Administração de Empresas, FGV-EAESP Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (Brazil), vol. 35(2), March.
    8. John Van Reenen, 2004. "Active Labor Market Policies and the British New Deal for the Young Unemployed in Context," NBER Chapters, in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 461-496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1992. "Minimum Wages," CEP Discussion Papers dp0080, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    10. Eric A. Hanushek, 2003. "The Failure of Input-Based Schooling Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 64-98, February.
    11. Adrian Wood, 1997. "How Trade Hurt Unskilled Workers," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: Jitendralal Borkakoti & Chris Milner (ed.), International Trade and Labour Markets, chapter 7, pages 140-168, Palgrave Macmillan.
    12. Machin, Stephen & Manning, Alan & Rahman, Lupin, 2002. "Where the minimum wage bites hard: the introduction of the UK national minimum wage to a low wage sector," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20070, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    13. Richard Dickens & Alan Manning, 2004. "Has the national minimum wage reduced UK wage inequality?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 167(4), pages 613-626, November.
    14. Paul Gregg & Susan Harkness, 2003. "Welfare Reform and the Employment of Lone Parents," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: Richard Dickens & Paul Gregg & Jonathan Wadsworth (ed.), The Labour Market Under New Labour, chapter 7, pages 98-115, Palgrave Macmillan.
    15. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1996. "Changes in the Distribution of Wages and Unemployment in OECD Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 302-308, May.
    16. Desjonqueres, Thibaut & Machin, Stephen & Van Reenen, John, 1999. " Another Nail in the Coffin? Or Can the Trade Based Explanation of Changing Skill Structures Be Resurrected?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(4), pages 533-554, December.
    17. Paul R. Krugman, 1994. "Past and prospective causes of high unemployment," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, vol. 79(Q IV), pages 23-43.
    18. Prais,S. J., 1995. "Productivity, Education and Training," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521556675, June.
    19. O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
    20. Dan Devroye & Richard B. Freeman, 2001. "Does Inequality in Skills Explain Inequality in Earnings Across Advanced Countries?," NBER Working Papers 8140, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Alan B. Krueger, 2003. "Economic Considerations and Class Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 34-63, February.
    22. Paul R. Krugman, 1994. "Past and prospective causes of high unemployment," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Jan, pages 49-98.
    23. Mark B. Stewart, 2004. "The Impact of the Introduction of the U.K. Minimum Wage on the Employment Probabilities of Low-Wage Workers," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(1), pages 67-97, March.
    24. Thibaut Desjonqueres & Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1999. "Another Nail in the Coffin? Or Can the Trade Based Explanation of Changing Skill Structures Be Resurrected?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(4), pages 533-554, December.
    25. Sheldon Danziger & Jane Waldfogel, 2000. "Investing in Children: What do we know? What should we do?," CASE Papers case34, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    26. Giulia Faggio & Stephen Nickell, 2003. "The Rise in Inactivity Among Adult Men," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: Richard Dickens & Paul Gregg & Jonathan Wadsworth (ed.), The Labour Market Under New Labour, chapter 3, pages 40-52, Palgrave Macmillan.
    27. Paul Gregg & Susan Harkness, 2003. "Welfare Reform and Lone Parents Employment in the UK," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/072, The Centre for Market and Public Organisation, University of Bristol, UK.
    28. Mike Brewer & Tom Clark & Alissa Goodman, 2003. "What Really Happened to Child Poverty in the UK under Labour's First Term?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(488), pages 240-257, June.
    29. Howard Glennerster, 2002. "United Kingdom Education 1997--2001," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 120-136, June.
    30. Richard Dickens & Paul Gregg & Jonathan Wadsworth (ed.), 2003. "The Labour Market Under New Labour," Palgrave Macmillan Books, Palgrave Macmillan, number 978-0-230-59845-4, August.
    31. Julia Whitburn, 2002. "Mathematical Attainments in Primary Schooling: Raising Standards and Reducing Diversity," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 179(1), pages 64-75, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Puhani, Patrick A., 2003. "A Test of the 'Krugman Hypothesis' for the United States, Britain, and Western Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-18, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    2. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Hübler, Olaf & Kraft, Kornelius, 2008. "Flexibilisierungspotenziale bei heterogenen Arbeitsmärkten : eine Einführung (Potentials for increasing flexibility in heterogeneous labour markets : an introduction)," Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung - Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 41(2/3), pages 95-116.
    3. Oesch, Daniel, 2009. "Explaining high unemployment among low-skilled workers: Evidence from 21 European and Anglo-Saxon countries, 1991-2006," MPRA Paper 21041, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Hübler, Olaf & Kraft, Kornelius, 2008. "Flexibilisierungspotenziale bei heterogenen Arbeitsmärkten : eine Einführung (Potentials for increasing flexibility in heterogeneous labour markets : an introduction)," Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung - Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 41(2/3), pages 95-116.
    5. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Hübler, Olaf & Kraft, Kornelius, 2008. "Flexibilisierungspotenziale bei heterogenen Arbeitsmärkten : eine Einführung (Potentials for increasing flexibility in heterogeneous labour markets : an introduction)," Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung - Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 41(2/3), pages 95-116.
    6. Richard Blundell & Mike Brewer & Marco Francesconi, 2008. "Job Changes and Hours Changes: Understanding the Path of Labor Supply Adjustment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 421-453, July.
    7. Giulia Faggio & Stephen Nickell, 2005. "Inactivity Among Prime Age Men in the UK," CEP Discussion Papers dp0673, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    8. Hoekman & Bernard & Winters, L. Alan, 2005. "Trade and employment : stylized facts and research findings," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3676, The World Bank.
    9. Patrick A. Puhani, 2008. "Transatlantic Differences in Labour Markets: Changes in Wage and Non‐Employment Structures in the 1980s and the 1990s," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 9(3), pages 312-338, August.
    10. Ron Smith & Gylfi Zoega, 2004. "Global Shocks and Unemployment Adjustment," Economics wp24_smith, Department of Economics, Central bank of Iceland.
    11. Patrick A. Puhani, 2002. "The Rise and Fall of Swiss Unemployment - Relative Demand Shocks, Wage Rigidities, and Temporary Immigrants," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-29, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
    12. Jeff Borland, 2000. "Economic Explanations of Earnings Distribution Trends in the International Literature and Application to New Zealand," Treasury Working Paper Series 00/16, New Zealand Treasury.
    13. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Cross-Country Inequality Trends," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 121-149, February.
    14. Mirko Draca & Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 2011. "Minimum Wages and Firm Profitability," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 129-151, January.
    15. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2005. "Do Cognitive Test Scores Explain Higher U.S. Wage Inequality?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 184-193, February.
    16. Nathalie Chusseau & Michel Dumont & Joël Hellier, 2008. "Explaining Rising Inequality: Skill‐Biased Technical Change And North–South Trade," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(3), pages 409-457, July.
    17. Franz, Wolfgang, 1999. "Real and monetary challenges to wage policy in Germany at the turn of the millennium: technical progress, globalization and European Monetary Union," ZEW Discussion Papers 99-48, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    18. Puhani, Patrick A, 2003. "The Rise and Fall of Swiss Unemployment," CEPR Discussion Papers 3828, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    19. Rosario Crinò, 2009. "Offshoring, Multinationals And Labour Market: A Review Of The Empirical Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(2), pages 197-249, April.
    20. Peter Huber & Peter Mayerhofer & Helmut Hofer & Gerhard Palme, 2001. "Teilprojekt 9: Auswirkungen der EU-Erweiterung auf den österreichischen Arbeitsmarkt," WIFO Studies, WIFO, number 19839, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Poverty; Worklessness; Wage dispersion; Disability;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0579. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/discussion-papers/ .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/discussion-papers/ .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.