Absolute Definition of Poverty
Absolute poverty is based on the idea that there is a subsistence level of income necessary to sustain life. It is usually measured by calculating the price of the absolute necessities of life. Anyone whose income is insufficient to provide the necessities of life is said to be in poverty. The necessities are assumed to include nutrition, shelter and health. Nutrition, for example is measured by working out diet sheets that cover minimum protein and calorie intake.
Charles Booth published his work The Life and Labour of the Poor People of London between 1891 and 1903. This was one of the first social surveys looking at the life of the poor. Booth showed that roughly 25% of the labouring population of London were living in poverty. Seebohm Rowntree decided to repeat the study in York as he did not believe that this was a true figure of people in poverty. He originally set out to disprove Booth's claims.
In 1899 Rowntree examined the extent of poverty in York , Rowntree examined what he considered the three essential costs to everyone
- Food, in terms of a diet to maintain good health
- Clothing, in terms of the minimum needed for protection against we and cold conditions
- Housing, in terms of the average rent paid by working class people at the time