Relative poverty is a standard which is measured in terms of a society in which an individual lives, which differs between different countries and time. It can also be known as the status in which people lack the minimum amount of income they need in order to maintain the average standard of living in the society in which they are situated (Gordon 2006). Relative poverty is considered the easiest way to measure the level of poverty throughout an individuals country in which they are situated. An income-related example would be someone who is living on less than 60% of the median UK
The UK government, however, uses a different definition of absolute poverty: The measure used by the DWP seems to be more accurately described as a minimum acceptable standard of living over time. This standard is set relative to what people earned in 2010/11: the threshold is a household earning less than 60% of the 2010/11 median after taxes and transfers, adjusted for household size and composition.
The second indicator that gauged current living standards under the current income support standards was income poverty (Healey, 2007, pp. 8, 10). According to the estimated percentages provided in Table 2, proportions of Australians in 2006 that are living below 50% of the median income, and in fact below the poverty line represent an estimated 11.1% of all
Townsend (1979) created a deprivation index to measure the extent of poverty in the UK.
Relative poverty is ‘a measurement of the resources and living conditions of parts of the population in relation to others’ (Schwartzman, 1997). This means that people, who are living in a way that deprives them of a similar standard of living that is the norm to their society, can be considered as living in poverty; relative rather than absolute (Fulcher, J & Scott, J 2007).
Sociology Homework: Examine the sociological explanations of unequal distributions of wealth and income in contemporary Britain (24 marks)
With the widening gap between the North and South of England and poverty rates being at an all-time high, there are many theories and explanations as to why individuals choose to commit suicide. There are some ideas that people commit suicide due to poverty and being socially and economically disadvantaged there are others that believe that having no education leads to higher levels of suicide. However critics would argue that these explanations do not take into account personal circumstances of the individual. However statistically suicide rates are higher in areas of higher levels of poverty.
With the United Kingdom being the 3rd European country with the highest GDP it is rather difficult to assume that issues such as negative economic growth, rising unemployment (Mooney and Scott, 2012) and consequently poverty would have any magnitude in its territory. However poverty does appear to be an issue in Scotland, even though it contributes as the 2nd largest percentage on UK’s GVA (7.7% ONS, 2012). With the acceptance of the referendum Scotland was aiming for independence and therefore taking in its own hands decision making regarding sectors such as the economic one by prioritizing and making the right decisions in order to tackle issues such as that of poverty. After September 18th 2014 economic changes concerning currency, unemployment and natural resources would have an impact on Scotland’s current issues regarding poverty.
Measuring poverty and deprivation are another important approach to measuring relative poverty. The guide combines a number of indicators which covers a range of economic, and social issues, allows each area to be relative to one another according to the level of deprivation. This covers the degree of income-related based upon the number in receipt of income related benefits which includes income support and tax or pension credits.
Poverty is often associated with Third World countries, where the outcome of such poverty is often death from disease or starvation. However this is the extremes of poverty, and is rarely experienced within the UK. Despite this poverty still takes place within the UK just at a lesser extent, however this does not take away from the devastating effects that poverty can have. This poverty can be attributed to having less money and lower living standards than others of the same society (European Anti-Poverty Network, 2009). Child poverty is a direct result of adult poverty (Poverties.org, 2011-2012) however unlike and adult, the experience of poverty for a child can effect later life drastically. In April 2011, there were 13 million people in the UK living below the poverty line, this included 3.6 million children (Department for Work and Pensions, 2011), and these numbers are expected to rise further (Child Poverty action Group, 2000-2012). This type of poverty does not discriminate, it is a direct result of inadequate resources.
The study of poverty that was in the twentieth century during the second half was moved toward the problems little differently, the concept of relative poverty was then introduced. This was then to define poverty, as a level of income that would stop individuals that are participating that is in the life of the society that the people live in. The man called Peter Townsend was the key when it came to the development toward the used of the relative poverty that was of the studies of inequality and deprivation and in 1979 his view
‘Relative Poverty’ refers to: “The state of being poor, with reference to a real, or perceived standard of living in a society” Lawson et al (2001, p.207). Lawson et al (2001) state it’s difficult defining relative poverty accurately, due to living standards varying over place and time. They add, it’s also difficult to agree on how standard of living should be measured, and used as a reference point. ‘Absolute Poverty’ refers to: “The lack of basic necessities i.e. (food, shelter, and access to clean water and medical care) with which to sustain a healthy existence” Lawson et al (2001, p.1). Absolute poverty tends to be correlated with developing countries, however, it’s disputed that this type of poverty exists in numerous developed industrial societies among the destitute (Moore et al., 2002).
(Tackling Social Exclusion- John Pierson) A definition of Relative poverty would be: " the poor shall be taken to mean persons, families and groups of persons whose resources (material, cultural and social) are so limited as to exclude them from the minimum acceptable way of life of the Member State in which they live." (Tackling Social Exclusion- John Pierson) Although social exclusion and poverty go hand in hand, they are not the same thing. For example, Continental Europe has seen a major rise in unemployment over the past two decades without this leading to mass poverty.
Absolute poverty (AP) is where a person or family lack the bare minimums for healthy survival, referring to a person's living needs of water, food, clothing and shelter (Browne, 2009). AP is measured by pricing these basic necessities and drawing up a poverty line, those incomes that fall below the line are defined as poor (Haralambos & Holborn, 2008). There has been attempts to define and operationalise the concept of AP; in 1995 The United Nations defined AP as a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food and water, shelter, education and information; it depends not only on income but also access to services, such as schools and hospitals (Haralambos & Holborn, 2008). In America they use $1 a day threshold for serving with the minimum needs but, in the UK incomes are not this low, so these thresholds have no importance (The poverty site, 2007). In 2015-16 30% (18.9 million) of individuals where living in households with income below minimum income standards it increased over a 5th since 2008 to 2012 (JFR, d.u.).
Poverty is generally of two types. Absolute poverty and Relative poverty. Absolute poverty or destitution refers to the lack of means necessary to meet basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Relative poverty occurs when people do not benefit from a definite least amount level of livelihood values as compared to the rest of the public and so would vary from country to country, at times within the same country.