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

  • Richard Dickens
  • David T. Ellwood

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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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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