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Poverty and Inequality Law
Relative definition of poverty

Relative definition of poverty

Townsend's work on poverty has had an enormous impact on research into poverty. The main criticism of his work has been because he failed to distinguish between people who did not own certain goods or amenities as a matter of choice and those who did not because they could not afford to do so.

An attempt was made to overcome this criticism and to further develop Townsend's pioneering work on a working definition of relative poverty in Breadline Britain (Mack and Lansley 1985 and 1990) These surveys introduced what has come to be regarded as the social consensus approach where a sample of the general public is asked to determine what goods and services should be considered as essential (rather than letting the researcher decide)

Below is a list of "necessities" used in Breadline Britain .

•  What percentage of the population do you think ranked the following as necessities? For example 73% of the population ranked ‘washing machine' as a necessity.

•  Enter the percentage you think it is in the column Your Choice

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