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  • Author or Editor: Richard Berthoud x
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This article challenges the growing orthodoxy among analysts and makers of social policy that an index of material deprivation should be preferred to low income as a measure of poverty. Such scales are nevertheless invaluable as indicators of living standards, and can be used to improve our understanding of social exclusion, and the role of low income in that process. Income and deprivation data from seven waves of the British Household Panel Survey are used to show that poverty may be less common, but also more severe, more stable and more intransigent, than standard annual income tables indicate. These lessons are applied to a discussion of the government’s plan to introduce a deprivation index into its suite of child poverty measures.

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The economic position of disabled people is often summarised by comparing their overall employment rate with that of non-disabled people. But the average figure masks a very wide range of variation in the prospects faced by individual disabled people – immensely wider than the range for the population as a whole. The severity of their impairments is a crucial influence, but the Labour Force Survey makes no attempt to measure it. Disabled people are also sensitive to other disadvantaging factors such as age and poor qualifications. More detailed consideration needs to be given to what distinguishes between those disabled people who are, and are not, in work.

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Recent research provides evidence of continuing economic disadvantage among minority groups. But the wide variation between specific groups contradicts the notion that being a member of a minority group is, in itself, associated with financial hardship. This article summarises some of the quantitative evidence about ethnic minority incomes. Chinese and Indian households are characterised by a wide range of inequality within each group, with many prosperous families as well as some poor ones. Caribbean and African households are often poorer than white households, but Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are easily the poorest groups in Britain, and depend very heavily on means-tested benefits.

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