There is no agreement on how to define poverty. The word at one extreme evokes pictures of starving African children or Dickensian novels. In our wealthy, developed country, can people be described as really poor?
There is no official definition of poverty in Britain, although various sets of statistics are collected that are regarded by some as a way of measuring it. The first figure comes from a government survey of the member of people living on 50% or less of average income, after housing costs. This is the yardstick used by the European Union and many European countries.
Some argue that the crucial point is the size of the gap between rich and poor, particularly what happens at the bottom of the heap. Are the poorest getting poorer? How can absolute pove
rty be measured? Poverty has always been seen in the broader context of what is going on in the rest of the society.
Dr. Richard Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal has argued that even relative poverty has a detrimental effect on health. He says that people live longer in countries with small differences in income than in those with large imbalances.
Perceptions of poverty shift as society changes. Fifty years ago, the absence of an indoor lavatory would not have signaled deprivation: now it does. The idea that a family can possess a video and still be poor is cheaper than going to the cinema. Is access to films a necessity in Britain from which people should not be excluded?
Poverty is now defined so widely and the statistics are so highly politicized that they are no longer meaningful. The early researchers into poverty had a clear idea of what it was and believed that it could be eliminated with the right approach. Until they are not capable of making a clear definition for poverty they won't be able to fight against it.
Is Anyone in Britain Really Poor written by Herminne Tonita for FamousWhy.com
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