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Prospects for Poverty in Britain in the First Twenty-Five Years of the Next Century

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2000

Jonathan Bradshaw
Department of Social Policy, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK
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Considering the prospects for poverty in the next twenty-five years, this article argues that trends in poverty over the last two decades or so are not a good guide for the future because the increase in poverty occurring during that time was exceptional in the context of this century. Further, it was not an experience common to most other industrialised countries. Three key factors will determine future prospects for poverty. First, demographic prospects are mainly good – children and the elderly are high risk groups: the number of children will fall and the proportion of older people does not increase as much as in the last two decades. However, family change will continue to generate poverty. Secondly, prospects for the economy look as good as they have been for decades and, in particular, competition for jobs will decline, increasing the opportunities for those excluded from the labour market. The third and key factor will be the impact of politics on policy. Reducing poverty and abolishing child poverty within twenty years are targets of the Labour Government. However there are anxieties about their reliance on labour market solutions. There will still need to be redistribution in favour of those who cannot get access to paid work. There is then a discussion of some of the challenges for social research. In conclusion, the prospects for reducing poverty are good, particularly if government regains an appetite for redistribution.

Research Article
© 2000 BSA Publications Ltd

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