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The End of Destitution


  • Gazeley, Ian

    () (University of Sussex)

  • Newell, Andrew T.

    () (University of Sussex)


The paper presents a statistical generalisation, to working families in the whole of Britain, of Rowntree's finding that absolute poverty declined dramatically in York between 1899 and 1936. We use poverty lines devised by contemporary social investigators and two relatively newly-discovered data sets. We estimate an almost complete elimination of absolute poverty among working households for the whole of the Britain between 1904 and 1937. We offer a number of pieces of corroborative evidence that give support to our findings. We decompose the poverty reduction into the effects of two proximate causes, of roughly equal importance, the decline in family size and the rise of real wages. We conclude with some speculation about the deeper causes of the decline.

Suggested Citation

  • Gazeley, Ian & Newell, Andrew T., 2009. "The End of Destitution," IZA Discussion Papers 4295, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4295

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sen, Amartya, 1979. " Issues in the Measurement of Poverty," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 81(2), pages 285-307.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The state & inequality
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-08-04 18:04:43


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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. Newell, Andrew T. & Gazeley, Ian, 2012. "The Declines in Infant Mortality and Fertility: Evidence from British Cities in Demographic Transition," IZA Discussion Papers 6855, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Britain; living standards; real wage growth; demographic change; poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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