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February 14, 2007

UK Child Poverty

Yup, we're bottom of the league. Here's the BBC report and here's the full one.

They are, of course, talking about relative poverty. As they themselves say:

Nonetheless an international comparison based on a poverty line drawn at 50% of the median national income presents only a partial picture in that it makes no allowance for differences in national wealth. It shows, for example, that the child poverty rate in the United States is higher than in Hungary, but fails to show that 50% of median income (for a couple with two children) is approximately $7,000 in Hungary and $24,000 in the United States. The fact that a smaller percentage of children are growing up poor in the Czech Republic than in France, or in Poland
than in Italy, does not mean that Czech or Polish children are more affluent but that their countries have a more equal distribution of income. In other words Figure 1.1 tells us much
about inequality and exclusion but little about absolute material deprivation.

The value of this measurement of poverty therefore depends upon how much weight you put upon inequality being the determinant of poverty and how much you think material deprivation is the definition. Is being more egalitarian on $7,000 a year a sign of less poverty than greater inequality on $24,000 a year?

Your choice. Anyone who comes up with other stuff from it, please do let us know, I'm going to put it down as more of the same old, same old, for I tend to worry more about absolute poverty than I do inequality.

The Telegraph leads with something else from the report:

It says there is statistical evidence to link growing up in single-parent families and step-families with a greater risk of dropping out of school, leaving home early, poorer health, low skills, and low pay.

Of 7.3 million families with parents of working age in Britain, a quarter are lone parents. The nation has far more single-parent families than any other EU nation.

It is predicted that by 2010 there will be more children living in a step-family than in their biological family.

Who knew that a liberal attitude towards divorce and single parenthood would raise child poverty levels?

February 14, 2007 in Idiotarians | Permalink


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Why is it meaningful to group the whole of the US together when doing this kind of calculation but not meaningful to group the whole of the EU together? The difference in median income between Hungary and the US is probably similar to the difference between Alabama and California.

Most of this relative poverty measure is due to the fact that larger and less homogenious groups have higher variance, which is hardly surprising.

Posted by: Chris Harrison | Feb 14, 2007 9:21:12 AM

"Who knew that a liberal attitude towards divorce and single parenthood would raise child poverty levels?"

Funny how fiscal liberals often are social authoritarians, isn't it?

Posted by: Kay Tie | Feb 14, 2007 9:29:23 AM

Kay Tie, do you see a difference between 'social authoritarian' and simply 'social conservative'? I would count myself as neither, but I don't think it is necessarily inconsistent to be politically libertarian and socially conservative.

Posted by: cuthhyra | Feb 14, 2007 10:22:33 AM

"Funny how fiscal liberals often are social authoritarians, isn't it?"

And social liberals are never fiscal authoritarians?

I see nothing here which advocates social control, but my view is stop subsidising family breakdown at the expense, amongst others, of those families which are cohesive.

Nothing authoritarian there.

Posted by: Chris Harper | Feb 14, 2007 10:22:41 AM

Surely Tim you don't believe in stricter divorce laws?

Tim adds: No.

Posted by: Matthew | Feb 14, 2007 11:09:21 AM

Apparently the data use in this report is anything from 3 to 9 years old.

Posted by: Glenn Athey | Feb 14, 2007 1:45:28 PM

Glenn, that's what I was going to ask (and possibly investigate): a couple of NuLab talking heads have already been on the radio to say that the data used was old, but none of them put a date on exactly how old. My instinct, therefore, was to not believe them.

Posted by: sanbikinoraion | Feb 14, 2007 9:45:06 PM