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Scared to be poor: Vulnerability and poverty in Great Britain at the beginning of the 20th century

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  • Federica Di Battista

Abstract

This work explores the determinants of poverty in Edwardian Britain. We use a new household budget sample collected between 1900 and 1914 to understand what role vulnerability played in determining poverty and undernutrition. First, using a probit model we find that due to perceived risk on one hand, and to social norms on the other, families purchased insurance schemes as a strategy to cope with uncertainty. Second, using recursive mixed process estimation, we find that the decision to insure caused a reallocation from food to precautionary expenditures, which led to a significant reduction in calorie availability.

Suggested Citation

  • Federica Di Battista, 2016. "Scared to be poor: Vulnerability and poverty in Great Britain at the beginning of the 20th century," HHB Working Papers Series 5, The Historical Household Budgets Project.
  • Handle: RePEc:hbu:wpaper:5
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Luc J. Christiaensen & Kalanidhi Subbarao, 2005. "Towards an Understanding of Household Vulnerability in Rural Kenya," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies, vol. 14(4), pages 520-558, December.
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    5. Harold Alderman & Christina H. Paxson, 1994. "Do the Poor Insure? A Synthesis of the Literature on Risk and Consumption in Developing Countries," International Economic Association Series, in: Edmar L. Bacha (ed.), Economics in a Changing World, chapter 3, pages 48-78, Palgrave Macmillan.
    6. Hunt, E. H., 1986. "Industrialization and Regional Inequality: Wages in Britain, 1760–1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(4), pages 935-966, December.
    7. David Roodman, 2011. "Fitting fully observed recursive mixed-process models with cmp," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 11(2), pages 159-206, June.
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    10. Rossi, Nicola & Toniolo, Gianni & Vecchi, Giovanni, 2001. "Is The Kuznets Curve Still Alive? Evidence From Italian Household Budgets, 1881–1961," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(4), pages 904-925, December.
    11. Peter Scott & James Trevor Walker, 2015. "Demonstrating distinction at 'the lowest edge of the black-coated class': The family expenditures of Edwardian railway clerks," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 57(4), pages 564-588, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    1900-1914; Great Britain; insurance; poverty; vulnerability;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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