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The Poor and the Poorest, Fifty Years On

Listed author(s):
  • Gazeley, Ian


    (University of Sussex)

  • Newell, Andrew T.


    (University of Sussex)

  • Reynolds, Kevin


    (University of Sussex)

  • Searle, Rebecca


    (University of Sussex)

We re-explore Able-Smith and Townsend's landmark study of poverty in early post WW2 Britain. They found a large increase in poverty between 1953-4 and 1960, a period of relatively strong economic growth. Our re-examination is a first exploitation of the newly-digitised Board of Trade Household Expenditure Survey data set for 1953/4. Able-Smith and Townsend used only a small part of this data source. We find that Able-Smith and Townsend substantially over-estimated the rise in absolute poverty and also substantially under-estimated the rise in relative poverty. Their and our findings on poverty reflect a large rise inequality in the distribution of expenditure among British households. This rise is related to a rise in the preponderance of pensioner households, who, for instance, account for all the poor households in the 1961 Family Expenditure survey.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7909.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2014
Publication status: Published in The Journal of The Royal Statistical Society, 2017, 180 (2), 455–474.
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7909
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