Poverty in the UK 1968/69

In 1968/69, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation funded the first nationally representative survey of poverty in the UK since the foundation of the welfare state in 1948. This survey, Household Resources and Standards of Living in the United Kingdom, was carried out by the University of Essex and the London School of Economics with a sample of 2,052 households. This research is reported in Peter Townsend’s book Poverty in the United Kingdom (1979). In this work, Peter Townsend developed a relative deprivation approach to poverty that covered a wide range of aspects of living standards, both material and social. For Townsend:

Individuals, families and groups in the population can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the types of diet, participate in the activities, and have the living conditions and amenities which are customary, or at least widely encouraged or approved, in the societies to which they belong. Their resources are so seriously below those commanded by the average individual or family that they are, in effect, excluded from ordinary patterns, customs and activities.

(Townsend, 1979)

Peter Townsend was a key member of the PSE: UK bid but sadly died in 2009 before the ESRC grant was awarded. The Townsend estate has kindly given the PSE team permission to provide, for the first time, Poverty in the United Kingdom as downloadable files.

In the coming months we also hope to put data from this research study onto the website.

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