Poverty in perspective

Document type
Report
Author(s)
Wood, Claudia; Salter, Jo; Morrell, Gareth
Publisher
Demos
Date of publication
1 November 2012
Subject(s)
Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Collection
Social welfare
Material type
Reports

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Poverty as a lived experience is a complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon spanning one’s social and economic life – but we have, until now, never really understood how these different dimensions interact at household level. The way poverty is currently measured, by looking purely at income, is both too abstract to relate to people’s everyday lives and not informative enough to help practitioners tackle entrenched poverty. 

This report develops a pioneering new model to fill this gap in policy makers’ understanding, revealing how poverty manifests itself in different ways in different households and putting to bed once and for all the assumption that those in poverty are a homogeneous group that can all be helped in the same way. The analysis applies 20 indicators – spanning health, housing, education, material deprivation and social networks – to the low income population, to develop different ‘types’ of poverty. Each type must be addressed by a different combination of services and interventions.

The findings – and the model used to generate them – are entirely new. This is the first time anyone has attempted to systematically break down the in-poverty population into different groups and the insights of this analysis touch upon a range of policy areas – from wage distribution to housing. The report challenges established preconceptions about life in poverty, but also has vitally important implications for how we tackle it.

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