chapter  3
19 Pages

Poverty and deprivation

According to the Bureau of the Census, in 1983, 15.2 per cent (35 million people) of the US population lived below the poverty line (which is based on the minimum amount of money families need to purchase a nutritionally adequate diet, assuming they use one-third of their income for food). For blacks the incidence of poverty rose from 31.4 per cent in 1973 to 35.7 per cent in 1983, and for Hispanics the respective rates were 21. 9 per cent and 28.4 per cent. In the central cities the average poverty rate was 19.9 per cent in 1983 while in 'poverty areas' within

In UK up to 1988 the official extent of poverty was indicated by those living on supplementary benefit (approximately 40.0 per cent of average net earnings). Despite regular upward revisions of supplementary benefit rates there is ample survey and case-history evidence (Townsend 1979) to indicate that there are many people in Britain who have neither enough to eat or sufficient clothing, or who lack adequate furniture or other household equipment (Table 3.1). As Figure 3.1 shows, since the initiation of a national scheme in 1948 the size and composition of the claimant population has changed significantly. While the proportion of pensioner claimants has remained consistently high, most significant has been the increase in number of unemployed claimants from the late 1970s

onwards. The other major change has been the rise in number of single-parents claiming supplementary benefit, this figure doubling between 1973 and 1983 to reach 450,000.