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Poverty: the role of institutions, behaviours and culture

Susan Harkness, Paul Gregg and Lindsey MacMillan

26 June 2012

How much do individuals, institutional structures and culture influence poverty levels?

With unemployment rising, pressure on incomes, and cuts to public services, it is not unreasonable to believe poverty will become a pressing issue over coming years. What role will individuals, institutions and cultures play in any rise in poverty?

This programme paper assesses some of the causes of poverty and examines the role played by:

  • family structure;
  • employment and intergenerational worklessness;
  • geographical concentrations of poverty;
  • educational outcomes;
  • addiction to alcohol and drugs; and
  • debt.

Choosing themes which are prominent in current policy thinking, this study makes a useful contribution to an established social policy debate.

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