Skip to content


It used to be the case that having a job kept people out of poverty. But the rise
in low paid work means that this is no longer the case. Indeed, it is a striking fact
that, after taking housing costs into account, more people in poverty now live in
working households (54 per cent) than non-working households (46 per cent).50
Overall, 14 million people (22 per cent of the population) now live on incomes
below the official poverty line after housing costs; this includes 4 million children,
or nearly one in three.51 Over the last decade child poverty has fallen by just 3 per
cent, compared with 21 per cent in the previous decade,52 and it is now projected
to start rising again

You are talking about relative poverty. Which always will rise as inequality does. And yes, we do know we’ve got rising inequality.

7 thoughts on “Sigh”

  1. @Tim Worstall

    Too many articles today*. You should have held some for tomorrow, Friday & Saturday.

    Dearth of comments seems to support this.

    *ie TL;DR

  2. Dear Mr Worstall

    Rising inequality good, falling inequality bad in a capitalist society.

    When wealth is increasing, inequality rises, even though the poorest get less poor. When wealth is declining, inequality falls as the less poor become as poor as the poorest and the poorest get poorer. Equality of misery all round.

    Give me rising inequality any day of the week in a capitalist society.


  3. Here’s a new idea I came across recently, from Martin van Creveld:

    “When new products appear they are almost always luxuries, at any rate in the sense that, before they did so, no one felt any need for them. As time passes, though, luxuries have a strong tendency to turn into necessities. The histories of automobiles, personal computers, and mobile telephones all illustrate this very well. Each one caused life to re-structure itself until it became absolutely indispensable.”

    This is not about relative poverty and Adam Smith’s linen shirt. Rather, it is about network effects.

    Imagine you regularly use payphones. Then everyone else gets a mobile phone. It’s not worth BT maintaining hundreds of payphones just for you, so they shut them down. Now you are forced to get a mobile phone, or you won’t be able to make phone calls at all.

    Or imagine some of your local shops shut down because everyone else orders most of their things on the internet. Now you are forced to get a computer or a smartphone in order to buy things too.

    Or imagine you live in America, and after the invention of the motor car, people start building things further and further apart, beyond walking distance. Now you cannot walk anywhere, you are forced to use motorised transport, because everyone else does. In Dubai, there are few pavements, and some buildings are not accessible by foot at all — you have to drive. It didn’t used to be like that.

  4. @ JJ
    In this part of the UK you need a car to drive to the tip (“recycling centre”) because it is on an out-of-town “A” road with no pavement (nor any access by footpath). There are still recycling bins for paper (but not card or coloured paper like Yellow Pages or the FT) and textiles but anything else that doesn’t fit into one’s wheely-bin has to be transported by car/van to the tip. If you don’t have a car – too bad!

  5. Bloke in Wales in Dorset

    anything else that doesn’t fit into one’s wheely-bin has to be transported by car/van to the tip. If you don’t have a car – too bad!

    Yes – it’ll have to go in the standard rubbish bag then. Too bad!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *