Factors which are seen as contributing to the increase in poverty in recent years:
1. Many of the groups most vulnerable have grown larger. As people live longer there are more elderly. As more people divorce there are more lone parent families; and there are more unemployed people. All these groups have many individuals who are dependent on welfare.
2. Poverty is also increasing among those who do not depend on welfare, such as families dependent on a low wage earner. The difference in earnings between those in well paid secure jobs and those in low paid often insecure jobs has widened since 1979.
3. The incomes of the poor have not kept up with the majority. Child Poverty Action Group ...view middle of the document...
In addition to low pay, such jobs also carry greater risks of redundancy, accidents and industrial diseases. John Westergaard and Robert Ressler argue that class inequalities generated by the capitalist system are the fundamental reason for the persistence of poverty.
Gender and poverty
There is considerable evidence that women are more likely to experience poverty than men. Peter Townsend et al (1987) argue that there has been a feminisation of poverty.
Townsend identifies four main groups that make up the female poor:
1. Women who look after children or other dependents. They are unpaid and unable to take paid employment.
2. Lone women with children, whether or not in employment.
3. Elderly women pensioners, especially those who live alone.
4. Women with low earnings where the earnings or income of others does not enable total household income to exceed the poverty line.
Ethnicity and poverty
Unemployment is higher among ethnic minorities. In 1993, male unemployment among ethnic minorities was 21%, among whites it was 10%. Black people are also disproportionately represented in low paid jobs. The social security system can operate against some members of the ethnic minority community, for example to claim severe disablement allowance or certain types of old age pension there are residence requirements that will exclude many more recent arrivals
Region and poverty
Regional inequality is reflected in the term 'the north-south divide'. A higher proportion of people on low incomes (less than 50% of average income) come from the north.
Bradshaw and Holmes (1989) | "The poor are just the same people as the rest of our population, with the same culture and aspirations but with simply too little money to be able to share in the activities and possessions of everyday life with the rest of the population." |
Westergaard and Ressler (1975) | Argue that class inequalities generated by the capitalist system are the fundamental reason for the persistence of poverty. |
Absolute poverty | Having only what is required for physical health. |
Relative poverty | Measured in terms of judgments by members of a particular society of what is considered a reasonable and acceptable standard of living. |
Consumption property | Property that we have for personal use-clothes, cars, family homes. |
Productive property | Makes money, it is capital and includes factories, farms, stocks and shares. |
Income | The flow of money. Based on market reward for skills. The ownership of intellectual capital or skills. |
Wealth | The store of capital. Obtained via inheritance or accumulation via high salaries. |
Social Democracy | A society with the strong supporting the weak through state intervention via taxation. |
New Right | The belief that the state should not be used to bring about any social objectives. |
Welfare pluralism | The provision of welfare from various sources, not just the state. |