Tag Archives: Poverty

How to End Poverty in 15 Years

I’ve moved this post to my other site – revisesociology.com – which is more dedicated to A level Sociology material. This blog remains more eclectic.

Additional…

In the Infographic below (nowhere near as impressive as Hans’) I’ve selected four African countries, and there’s a clear historical link between child mortality coming down first and then the economy growing (since 1960).

Interestingly, Malawi have recently got their child mortality rate down to 10%, but they are waiting for economic growth.

 

Work in Low Pay, No Pay Britain

In this latest Thinking Allowed podcast on ‘Low pay, no pay’ Britain Laurie Taylor talks to the sociologist, Tracy Shildrick, about her prize winning study of individuals and families who are living in or near poverty. The research was conducted in Teesside, North East England, and focuses on the men and women who’ve fallen out of old working class communities and must now cope with drastically reduced opportunities for standard employment. To my mind, this is a good in-dept illustration of what life is really like for a section of the Precariat (although Shildrick would be more cautious).

article-2303333-190F447B000005DC-765_964x621

The research is based on the book (published in 2012) – Poverty and insecurity Life in low-pay, no-pay Britain by Tracy Shildrick

This book explores how men and women get by in times and places where opportunities for standard employment have drastically reduced and where people exist without predictability or security in their lives, the book shows how poverty and insecurity have now become the defining features of working life for many.

Work may be ‘the best route out of poverty’ sometimes but for many people getting a job can be just a turn in the cycle of recurrent poverty – and of long-term churning between low-skilled ‘poor work’ and unemployment.

Based on unique qualitative, life-history research with a ‘hard-to-reach group’ of younger and older people, men and women this research challenges long-standing and dominant myths about ‘the workless’ and ‘the poor’, by exploring close-up the lived realities of life in low-pay, no-pay Britain.

Below is a summary of the main points of the podcast

  • The low-pay no-pay cycle is much more common than long-term unemployment. Most people intreviewed were committed to work, even though the jobs they did were not ‘comfortable’ jobs. This was one of their most consistent findings…. which in part explains why these people go back time and time again. This of course is the opposite to what we here in the media about people ‘languishing on benefits’.
  • It is not a guarantee that taking up employment will mean an individual is going to better off than on benefits. Most people were ashamed at having to claim benefits.
  • Jobs typically did not last long enough to take workers away from poverty.
  • In work-poverty is – 66% of poverty live in households were at least one person is in-work.
  • The types of work include factory jobs, bars, customer service, often run through agencies.
  • For the people interviewed these type of jobs are not stepping stones to something better – they get one foot on the rung of the ladder, get knocked off, and have to climb back on again.
  • Shildrick is not convinced that the term ‘Precariat’ is accurate enough to describe adequately the experience of all people who are sometimes put into this category. She argues that the experiences of the people she interviewed are different to those of a graduate working for a few years in similar jobs (although the people she interviewed do seem to fit into the definition of the Precariat used by the GBCS below)
  • In response to the idea that better training is the solution to helping people in these jobs, Shildrick suggests we need to look at the bigger picture – society needs these jobs – we need to think ahout how to reward them more appropriately.

Shildrick suggests that it is ultimately employers who have the power to help people out of this cycle. Unfortunately, the trend seems to be of employers being increasingly inflexible while demanding that employees be more flexible.

Links –

1. This seems to be a good in-dept illustration of what life is really like for a section of the Precariat

2. Also a nice illustration of the effects of living in liquid-modernity – The reality is actually bleaker for them than the above research might suggest – As Zygmunt Bauman reminds us (in Liquid Modernity)- ‘The bottom category are the easeist to replace, and  now they are disposabe and so that there is no point in entering into long term commitments with their work colleagues…..  this is a natural response to a flexibilised labour market. This leads to a decline in moral, as those who are left after one round of downsizing wait for the next blow of the axe.

Winner of the British Academy Peter Townsend Prize for 2013 How do men and women get by in times and places where opportunities for standard employment have drastically reduced? Are we witnessing the growth of a new class, the ‘Precariat’, where people exist without predictability or security in their lives? What effects do flexible and insecure forms of work have on material and psychological well-being? This book is the first of its kind to examine the relationship between social exclusion, poverty and the labour market. It challenges long-standing and dominant myths about ‘the workless’ and ‘the poor’, by exploring close-up the lived realities of life in low-pay, no-pay Britain. Work may be ‘the best route out of poverty’ sometimes but for many people getting a job can be just a turn in the cycle of recurrent poverty – and of long-term churning between low-skilled ‘poor work’ and unemployment. Based on unique qualitative, life-history research with a ‘hard-to-reach group’ of younger and older people, men and women, the book shows how poverty and insecurity have now become the defining features of working life for many. – See more at: http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781847429100#sthash.8EnqVw5J.dpuf
Winner of the British Academy Peter Townsend Prize for 2013 How do men and women get by in times and places where opportunities for standard employment have drastically reduced? Are we witnessing the growth of a new class, the ‘Precariat’, where people exist without predictability or security in their lives? What effects do flexible and insecure forms of work have on material and psychological well-being? This book is the first of its kind to examine the relationship between social exclusion, poverty and the labour market. It challenges long-standing and dominant myths about ‘the workless’ and ‘the poor’, by exploring close-up the lived realities of life in low-pay, no-pay Britain. Work may be ‘the best route out of poverty’ sometimes but for many people getting a job can be just a turn in the cycle of recurrent poverty – and of long-term churning between low-skilled ‘poor work’ and unemployment. Based on unique qualitative, life-history research with a ‘hard-to-reach group’ of younger and older people, men and women, the book shows how poverty and insecurity have now become the defining features of working life for many. – See more at: http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781847429100#sthash.8EnqVw5J.dpuf
Winner of the British Academy Peter Townsend Prize for 2013 How do men and women get by in times and places where opportunities for standard employment have drastically reduced? Are we witnessing the growth of a new class, the ‘Precariat’, where people exist without predictability or security in their lives? What effects do flexible and insecure forms of work have on material and psychological well-being? This book is the first of its kind to examine the relationship between social exclusion, poverty and the labour market. It challenges long-standing and dominant myths about ‘the workless’ and ‘the poor’, by exploring close-up the lived realities of life in low-pay, no-pay Britain. Work may be ‘the best route out of poverty’ sometimes but for many people getting a job can be just a turn in the cycle of recurrent poverty – and of long-term churning between low-skilled ‘poor work’ and unemployment. Based on unique qualitative, life-history research with a ‘hard-to-reach group’ of younger and older people, men and women, the book shows how poverty and insecurity have now become the defining features of working life for many. – See more at: http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781847429100#sthash.8EnqVw5J.dpuf

Putting DRC Poverty in context (2)

My first ever infographic!

/

/

Not perfect I know, and maybe a bit tedious in terms of the ‘same old theme’ again, but I’m pretty pleased for a first effort…

Disclaimer – The relative sizes might be a bit skewed, I square rooted the relative numbers and then ‘tweaked’ so they looked about right. Anyways, it’s just a first effort, defo more to come. Hopefully one day I can figure out a way to get paid to knock (much more professional versions) of these up.

I made it in inkscape  – Pretty easy to get the basics, even for a total novice like me!

Putting DRC Poverty in Context

DRC – Resource Rich but ‘dirt poor’

The GDP of The Democratic Republic of Congo is $15 billion. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the total value of goods and services produced within a country in one year, and so is roughly equivalent to the amount of money that will be spent in total on everything by everyone in one year in that country.**

You might find it difficult to put this amount of money in context, so to give you an idea of how little this it’s useful to think about how we spend similar amounts of money in the UK….

The GDP of the DRC is equivalent to less than half the amount of money the UK Government spends on Housing Benefit per year – (average per year prediction for next four years – $38.1bn (£23.75).

UK government housing benefit expenditure is about 2.5 times greater than the DRC’s GDP

/

The entire population of the DRC have about half as much money to spend as BP.’s profits for 2011 ($25.7 Billion) – (BP. Is the UK’s most profitable company).

BP.’s 2011 profits were nearly twice the GDP of the DRC

/

The UK population spend $9 billion more on their pets than the entire population of the DRC spend on themselves – Total UK pet expenditure per year stands at £14.9 Billion or $23.9bn

People in the UK spend $9 billion more on their pets every year than DRC’s GDP

/

Britain’s second most profitable company, Royal Dutch Shell, made $5 billion more in profit than the total GDP of the DRC – Shell’s 2011 profits were $20 billion.

Shell’s profits in 2011 amounted to $5 billion more than DRC’s GDP

/

Finally, and depressingly, the closest equivalent I could find is that DRC GDP is roughly equivalent the amount that UK adults spend on Christmas presents this year – An amount which stands at $13.6bn or £8.5bn.

‘Please sir, I want some more’

 

Merry Christmas!

/

**Yes I know there’s probably quite a lot of additional money floating about because of the massive corruption in DRC, but I have to go with official figures because at least they exist!

 

 

What is The Human Development Index?

Australia has the highest HDI in the world - that alone should make you suspicious its validity
Australia has the highest HDI in the world - that alone should make you suspicious of its validity

I’ve developed a new appreciation for how crazy the HDI is as a measurement of a country’s development. Thank the lord they don’t apply the same sliding scale criteria to educational achievement in this country – oh, hang on, they do! Anyway – here’s some info on the HDI….

The Human Development Index is a summary measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.

Human Development is now measured using four indicators

  • Life expectancy at birth
  • Mean years of adult education adults over 25 have received
  • The number of expected years of education children attending school can expect
  • Gross National Income per capita (PPP)

The UN (who monitor Human Development) give each country a rank from between 0 and 1 based on how well it scores in relation to ‘constructed minimum’ and ‘observed maximum scores for each of these criteria. The minimum and maximum scores for each criteria are as below

  Minimum scores* Perceived maximums
Life expectancy at birth 20 83.2
Mean years of adult education adults over 25 have received 0 13.2
The number of expected years of education children attending school can expect 0 20.6
Gross National Income per capita (PPP) 163 108, 211

(*This is the level below which the UN believes there is no prospect for human development!)

How does the HDI work out a country’s score? – it’s quite easy – if a country has a life expectancy of 83.2, and all the other maximums, it would score one, if it had a life expectancy of 20, and all the other minimums it would score zero. If it was half way between the minimum and maximum – it would score 0.5 – NB by the UK’s standards, this would be a pretty low level of human development!

So what do the scores mean?

Well a country scores 1-0.788 it’s has ‘high human development’ and is classified as a ‘developed country’ – as are 42 countries – most of the European countries come into this category.

All the rest are classified as ‘devloping countries (the figures are rough!)

  • A score of 0.785 -0.675 means a country has ‘high human development – eg Mexico and Brazil
  • 0.670 – 0.480 – Medium human development – eg China and Botswana
  • 0.48 and lower – Low human development – eg Ethiopia.

 

This site is great for doing the comparisons! – the UN data site – you can mash the data up and do loads of stuff –

You get a feeling for how HDI is changing over time….

HDI_graph

Or you can break up the data and compare two or more countries… (click on it – it’ll enlarge!)

btsw china

It’s worth noting that there have been some changes to the HDI this year – !

‘Access to knowledge’ used to be measured by the adult literacy rate and combined gross enrolment in education – but because many of the world’s developed nations have reached 100% in both of these – this meant there would be less room for discriminating between the most and least developed nations (NB – This is one of the biggest problems with the HDI – because it is a relative scale – they just go on moving the goal posts – thus some countries will always appear underdeveloped… one could argue that having 100% literacy and enrolment is enough of a development goal in education – rather than the idea of spending a longer time in education as being desirable?)

Standard of living used to be measured by GDP per capita – but is now measured by Gross National Income (GNI) per capita in PPP US$. While GDP is a measure of economic output, it does not reflect a country’s disposable income—some profits may be repatriated abroad, some residents 2  receive remittances from abroad, and in some cases inbound aid flows may be sizeable. GNI adjusts the GDP for these factors and is therefore a better measure of a country’s level of income.

Also, the United Nations is now going to report on an even greater range of indicators of development than ever before – this post from the Global Sociology Blog has more… talking about the new focus on inequalities within developing nations – which is something that Hans Rosling also talks about in this video – great for visual graphics showing development!!!

Joseph Rowntree Foundation – Monitoring Poverty and Social Exlusion Annual Report 2010

Or Modern Britain: What a mess
 
Fresh out today – the latest annual report from the JRF

OK, so you may accuse me of biased interpretation of the stats (see below) but I get the following impression – there are more people (13 million!) living in poverty this year compared to last – despite the fact that the wealth of the richest thousand people grew by £77 billion last year.

On the plus side, the number of children leaving school without qualifications has fallen, so our kids are better educated – however, the unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds is the highest in nearly two decades, so those qualifications won’t get them jobs, so aren’t that much use in lifting them out of poverty.Finally, the number of workless families who are in poverty has fallen in the last year, while the number of children in working families in poverty has risen – suggesting that combining work and having a family is economically irrational.

Maybe now that children from poorer families are better educated, they are in an even better position to figure out that work doesn’t pay compared to staying of benefits!

This is what I love about the JRF ‘monitoring poverty’ report – it’s a no nonsense guide to how messed up our country is!

In a summary in the Guardian Julia Unwin says –

‘Over the last decade we have seen poverty rates fall, before rising back up to their highest levels for years, with many of the gains lost years before the recession reared its head. In terms of income poverty, on the most-used measure, we are back to where we started at the beginning of the millennium, with rates now at the same level as 2000; having risen every year since 2004/05. The advances made during Labour’s first term did not hold.’

Some of the key stats from the summary

  • By 2008/09, 13m people were in poverty. Of these, 5.8m (44% of the total) were in ‘deep poverty’ (household income at least one-third below the poverty line), the highest proportion on record.
  • Despite the recession, the number of children in poverty in workless families fell in 2008/09, to 1.6m, the lowest since 1984, but those in working families rose slightly to 2.1m, the highest on record.
  • The numbers of 16-year-olds lacking five GCSEs at any level and of 19-year-olds lacking a level 2 qualification fell in 2009, and are lower than any time in the previous decade.
  • By mid-2010, the unemployment rate among those aged16–24 was, at 20%, the highest in 18 years, and three times that for other adults. After the last recession (1993), the rate was 16%, twice as high as for the rest of the population.