Poverty and Participation in 21st Century Britain

Poverty and Participation in 21st Century Britain

Emanuele Ferragina, Mark Tomlinson, Robert Walker
Notes & Documents de l'OSC 2015-04
  • Photo Jennifer Jane Mills - HighVis UKIP (CC BY-SA)Photo Jennifer Jane Mills - HighVis UKIP (CC BY-SA)

by Emanuele Ferragina, Mark Tomlinson & Robert Walker

Notes & Documents de l'OSC n° 2015-04 Juillet 2015 - 30 p.
Download the working paper

Peter Townsend argued that poverty could be scientifically measured as a 'breakpoint' within the income distribution below which participation collapses. This paper investigates Townsend's hypothesis by:
    - broadening his original measurement of participation,
    - using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) in conjunction with a new dataset including 40,000 households,
    - taking into account the multi-cultural/ethnic nature of British society. 

We find that participation - defined as lack of deprivation, social participation and trust - reduces as income falls but stops doing so among the poorest 30 per cent of individuals. This may be indicating a minimum level of participation, a floor rather than a ‘breakpoint’ as suggested by Townsend, which has to be sustained irrespective of how low income is. Finally, respondents with an ethnic minority background manifest lower levels of participation than white respondents.

Emanuele Ferragina is Assistant Professor of Sociology, in OSC & LIEPP, Sciences Po Paris.
Mark Tomlinson is Senior lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield.
Robert Walker is Professor of Social Policy, OISP, Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford.

This work was supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (for the project ‘Poverty Participation and Choice: The Legacy of Peter Townsend’) and by a public grant overseen by the French National Research Agency (ANR) as part of the “Investissements d’Avenir” program LIEPP.


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