Article

The poor and the poorest, 50 years on: evidence from British Household Expenditure Surveys of the 1950s and 1960s

Citation

Gazeley I, Gutierrez Rufrancos H, Newell A, Reynolds K & Searle R (2017) The poor and the poorest, 50 years on: evidence from British Household Expenditure Surveys of the 1950s and 1960s. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A, 180 (2), pp. 455-474. https://doi.org/10.1111/rssa.12202

Abstract
We re-explore Abel-Smith and Townsend's landmark study of poverty in early post World War 2 Britain. They found a large increase in poverty between 1953–1954 and 1960, which was a period of relatively strong economic growth. Our re-examination is a first exploitation of the data extracted from the recent digitization of the Ministry of Labour's ‘Enquiry into household expenditure’ in 1953–1954. First we closely replicate their results. We find that Abel-Smith and Townsend's method generated a greater rise in poverty than other reasonable methods. Using contemporary standard poverty lines, we find that the relative poverty rate grew only a little at most, and the absolute poverty rate fell, between 1953–1954 and 1961, as might be expected in a period of rising real incomes and steady inequality. We also extend the poverty rate time series of Goodman and Webb back to 1953–1954.

Keywords
Inequality; 1950s Britain; Poverty

Journal
Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A: Volume 180, Issue 2

StatusPublished
Publication date28/02/2017
Publication date online30/04/2016
Date accepted by journal28/02/2016
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/28475
ISSN0964-1998
eISSN 1467-985X