Poverty is largely confined to the working class who ‘walk along economic paths that are familiar to their parents’. Poverty is usually defined in terms of a shortfall in resources relative to a legitimate set of needs. Lengthening the accounting period has the effect of reducing the cross-sectional poverty rate. As the accounting period is extended so the resultant estimates of poverty asymptotically approach the level of permanent poverty. Making time explicit, and focusing on the concept of prevalence rather than incidence, serves to remind that the way in which poverty is distributed over time is related to the distribution of poverty within a population. In thinking about the multiplicity of factors that can precipitate a spell of poverty or, a period on social assistance, it is instructive to focus on the experience of women. In Britain significant numbers receive benefit as adult dependants rather than as claimants in their own right.