Poverty in Britain in 1904: An Early Social Survey Rediscovered

29 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2007

See all articles by Ian Gazeley

Ian Gazeley

University of Sussex

Andrew Newell

University of Sussex - School of Social Sciences & Cultural Studies; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: September 2007

Abstract

Until now there have been no national estimates of the extent of poverty in Britain at the turn of the 20th century. This paper introduces a newly-discovered household budget data set for the early 1900s. These data are more representative of urban working households in Britain in the period than any other existing record, although they are not without deficiencies. We use these data to estimate urban poverty in the British Isles in 1904. Applying Bowley's poverty line we find that about fifteen percent of people in urban working class households had income insufficient to meet minimum needs. This is close to Rowntree's estimate of primary poverty for York 1899 and in the range that Bowley found in Northern towns in 1912-3. This average masks a heavy concentration of poverty among the unskilled and those with large families.

Keywords: poverty, Britain, 1904

JEL Classification: N33, O15

Suggested Citation

Gazeley, Ian and Newell, Andrew T., Poverty in Britain in 1904: An Early Social Survey Rediscovered (September 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 3046. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1022926

Ian Gazeley

University of Sussex ( email )

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/history/profile985.html

Andrew T. Newell (Contact Author)

University of Sussex - School of Social Sciences & Cultural Studies ( email )

Falmer, Brightonm BN1 9QN
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1273 606755 (Phone)
+44 (0)1273 673563 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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