Apparently The Guardian doesn’t know what poverty is

Using research carried out by thinktank the Institute of Fiscal Studies into the likely impact of austerity on poverty levels in the UK, and extrapolating it across all 27 European Union member-states, Oxfam predicts that relative poverty, defined as the number of people living below 80% of median income, could be set to rise by anything from 15 to 25 million people by 2025.

Leave aside that this is a measure of inequality, not poverty. Even by the standards of relative poverty this is wrong. It’s below 60% of median income, adjusted for housing costs and household size.

Those arts graduates just don’t get numbers, do they?

12 thoughts on “Apparently The Guardian doesn’t know what poverty is”

  1. Actually, the Oxfam report simply says:

    Europe could have an additional 15 to 25 million people living in poverty by 2025 if austerity measures continue, equivalent to the population of the Netherlands and Austria combined

    You’ve got to go to the end-note for the previous (UK) figures, and that talks about both sorts of poverty:

    The IFS has estimated that over the period 2010 to 2020 there will be an increase in relative poverty of 800,000 children (a 5.1 percentage point increase), 500,000 working-age parents (3.4 percentage points) and 1.4 million working-age adults without children (2.5 percentage points); totalling 2.7 million. For comparison, the increase in absolute poverty over the same period is expected to be 2.2 million.


    I would also note the very interesting definition of absolute poverty in the IFS report:

    Notes: Poverty line is 60% of the real 2010—11 median income (hence, relative and absolute poverty in 2010– -11 are identical). Years refer to financial years.

    I don’t believe that somebody in the UK who was just on the low side of the “relatively poor” margin a couple of years ago was “absolutely poor” in any meaningful sense.

  2. Are we approaching that moment when the global Left, en masse, changes from absolute poverty to real poverty, like the Earth’s magnetic compass flipping north to south?

  3. The “60% of median income” measure of poverty (which is the most common measure) has huge merits if you’re a Grauniad journalist. It means that when the average family has ten helicopters and ten villas in the South of France, you’ll be able to describe as “poor” any household with less than six helicopters and villas in the South of France.

  4. Rob, we passed that point several years ago. As far as the BBC, the Guardian and every left-wing think tank is concerned ‘relative’ poverty equals poverty.

    Ralph, absolutely.
    That’s the insanity of it.

  5. New Labour decided that refugees (“asylum seekers”) fleeing from persecution should be content with living on £36* per week while banned from seeking paid employment until the Home Office completes its slow bureaucratic process of formally granting permission to stay. That is *nine* percent of median income.
    The Guardian thinks “absolute poverty” is an income six times as high.
    If the overpaid journalists went out and gave those sleeping on the streets a good meal, I might be more willing to take them seriously.
    *current level – it was lower in 2004 pounds

  6. I’m all in favour of poverty being defined as <80% of median income, as long as it's the global median we're talking about.

  7. Richard Allan,

    But no, that doesn’t work for the peasants in africa, india, china and venezuela may be financially poorer than others but they live happily in harmony with the nature…

  8. Raising people’s income solves their individual problems (hopefully) re poverty, but not others’. For example, I once lived in a sink estate in Glasgow that was inexorably sinking further because when anybody managed to get the money to leave they did so, to be replaced by poorer people whose problems tended to exacerbate those already in place. (I’m no longer there – I got the money to leave and left.)

  9. “If the overpaid journalists …”

    If they weren’t overpaid, then the median would be lower and there’d be less people in “poverty”.

  10. S-R: As relative poverty fell during the recession, they all flipped over to actual poverty definitions.

    As the recovery takes off and actual poverty diminishes they will flip back to the ‘relative’ definition, but still call it ‘poverty’ and 99% of the population will be unaware of the deception.

    The question is when will this switch occur?

  11. Au contrarire the Guardian types know exactly what poverty is: it is the pretext upon which all of their redistributive policies are based. If there were no poor people you couldn’t take money under threat from ‘rich’ people who would otherwise spend it on things that they liked and instead spend it on things you like. There is an entire ‘rentier’ middle class of public sector workers taxing the private sector in the name of poverty while keeping most of the receipts for themselves. Relative poverty is an essential part of the extortion racket. Yeh, they know all right.

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