The first poverty line? Davies and Eden’s investigation of rural poverty in late 18th-century England

Gazeley, Ian and Verdon, Nicola (2014) The first poverty line? Davies and Eden’s investigation of rural poverty in late 18th-century England. Explorations in Economic History, 51. pp. 94-108. ISSN 0014-4983

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Abstract

Two important and well-known surveys of the household budgets of the English rural labouring poor were produced by David Davies and Frederick Eden in the 1790s. We revisit these from the point of view of their original rationale — an investigation of the characteristics and extent of poverty in the countryside. We argue that Davies' standard of ‘tolerable comfort’ can lay claim to being the first poverty line based upon the application of a minimum consumption standard to household income. We find that the majority of households fall below this standard, although those in the south of England were worst off, that family size was the largest coefficient and poverty reduced as the age of the first child increased. The incidence of poverty was not highly correlated with the absence of a woman wage earner.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Depositing User: Ian Gazeley
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2015 14:35
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2017 03:57
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/56830

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