Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence

Annex 1



  Secondary analysis of two datasets was undertaken.

  The Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey of Britain (PSE) was used to examine severe poverty and social exclusion at a point in time. The PSE is a nationally representative survey including information about 841 children aged 16 years or less. Funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, this cross-sectional survey took place in 1999 and was designed and analysed by three teams of researchers from the Universities of York, Bristol and Loughborough. Fieldwork was carried out by the Office for National Statistics. Among the surveys unique features were that it included multiple measures of poverty and social exclusion for both children and adults. Among the poverty measures were carefully constructed and validated indices of material deprivation for both children and adults that could be used to measure poverty separately for children and adults. The survey also contained a more conventional before housing cost measure of household income.

  The British Households Panel Survey (BHPS) was used in the analysis of severe and persistent poverty. The BHPS is the only available data source that tracks the same households and individuals over time. The BHPS allows an income measure of poverty to be undertaken—again before housing costs—and includes some indicators of social exclusion at the household and individual adult level, as well as a Youth Panel questionnaire, undertaken with 11-15 year olds since 1994, that includes many useful indicators of young people's experiences both at school, at home and with their peers. Nine waves of the BHPS were used, from 1991 to 1999, which were the only waves available at the time of the analysis for which net income data were available at the time.

A2.  Measures of Severe Poverty

A2.1.  Severe Poverty in the PSE

  In order to be considered as severely poor, a child in the PSE analysis had to be:

    —  materially deprived according to the child's material deprivation index;

    —  their parents had to be materially deprived using the adult deprivation index; and

    —  their household income had to be below 40% of the PSE median.

  As an indication of the degree of poverty severity which this definition implies, the average household incomes of children defined as severely poor using this definition was £73 per week (below Income Support levels).

A2.2  Severe Poverty in the BHPS

  The BHPS does not contain similar measures of material deprivation to those in the PSE. In order to try and achieve some consistency between the measures a harsh definition of severe poverty was used. In order to be considered as severely poor in the BHPS analysis, in any one year a child had to live in a household whose income was below the median of the group of children defined as in severe poverty in the PSE analysis. This meant that children defined as severely poor in the BHPS analysis were in households with incomes below 27% of median, a severe income poverty line of £64.66 in 1999 (again, well below Income Support levels).

A3.  The Sample of Children from the BHPS

  The construction of the sample of children for the BHPS analysis was, inevitably, rather complex. First, it was not possible to look at the whole of childhood because not enough waves of the BHPS are yet available; a child aged less than one year old when the BHPS began in 1991 would only have been eight years old in 1999. Secondly, following all children born in 1991 would not have provided a large enough sample for analysis. As a result, "phases" of childhood needed to be constructed which had to be of the same length as each other, so that each child's poverty experiences would be analysed over the same number of years as every other child. The phases also needed to have some sociological meaning. The phases chosen were 0-4 years, 5-9 years, 10-14 years and 15-19 years, to coincide approximately with changes in children's lives around education. Each phase of childhood is five years long, so that in all the analysis of the BHPS children's poverty experiences are being examined over a five year period, sometime in the 1990s.

  Figure A1 provides further explanation of this for the first two phases of childhood only, although exactly the same principles apply to the third and fourth phases. The first cross in bold on the figure represents children aged less than one in the first Wave (1991) of the BHPS. Information about children of this age in this year was analysed for 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and finally in 1995 when they were aged four years old. The same procedure was applied for children aged less than one year in Wave 2, and they were followed from 1992 through to 1996. For the second cohort, a child aged five years in 1991 would be followed from 1991 to 1995 and a child aged five in 1992 through to 1996, and so on. All the children identified in this way were then combined to provide a sample of over 2000 children, followed over various five year periods between 1991 and 1999.

  The important point to bear in mind is that all children in the BHPS sample were followed for five consecutive years between 1991-99, either between the ages of 0-4, 5-9, 10-14 or 15-19.


  Using the definition of severe poverty for the BHPS described in A2.2 above—children having incomes below those of the median of children in severe poverty in the PSE—five poverty states were identified over the five year period of childhood on which the analysis was to focus. These are shown in Table A1, which also shows the proportions of children who experienced each of these states over the five year period.

Table A1.  BHPS Poverty Measures


Persistent and severe poverty:
  three or more years in poverty, at least one year in severe poverty
Persistent poverty only:
  three or more years in poverty, no years in severe poverty
Short-term and Severe poverty:
  less than three years in poverty, at least one year in severe poverty
Short-term poverty only:
  less than three years in poverty, no years in severe poverty
No poverty:
 child not in poverty in any years

A5.  Further Information

  Further details about the methodology used in the report can be found in Annexes to the published report or on request from the authors.

Sue Middleton


Centre for Research in Social Policy

Loughborough University

10 September 2003

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2004
Prepared 22 January 2004