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Poverty and Inequality Law
Absolute Definition of Poverty

Absolute Definition of Poverty

Rowntree established for example that the minimum clothing needs of a young woman were:

"One pair of boots, 2 aprons, 1 second hand dress, 1 skirt made from an old dress, shawl, jacket, 2 pairs of stockings, 1 pair of old boots worn as slippers, and one third of the cost of a new hat"
B.S Rowntree, 1899

Consider how this list would be viewed today. Make of list of the clothing that a young woman would regard as essential today. How does this compare to Rowntree's list of essential items? This is one of the main criticisms of an absolute definition of poverty

The family budget was worked out on the cheapest food and clothes, medical advice on nutrition and then added an allowance for rent, fuel and a small amount of sundries.

Rowntrees' absolute definition of poverty was:

"Total earnings are insufficient to obtain the minimum necessities for the maintenance of merely physical efficiency."

Using this definition of poverty Seebohm Rowntree calculated that 33% of the inhabitants of York were living in poverty.

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©Coleg Llandrillo Cymru 2004. Contact: www.llandrillo.ac.uk (new window)