The Economic History Review

Seebohm Rowntree and secondary poverty, 1899–19541

Volume 64 Issue 4
Home > The Economic History Review > Seebohm Rowntree and secondary poverty, 1899–19541
Pages: 1175-1194Authors: MARK FREEMAN
Published online: February 18, 2011DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2010.00570.x

Log in to access the full article.

This article, focusing on Seebohm Rowntree’s poverty surveys, considers the importance and durability of the concept of secondary poverty. It argues that secondary poverty was a central component of Rowntree’s first survey of York, carried out in 1899, and in his lectures and writing in the Edwardian period. Moreover, secondary poverty remained an important feature of Rowntree’s analysis during the interwar years and after the Second World War, and was adopted by other researchers in various ways. Although secondary poverty was not seriously examined in the published version of Rowntree’s 1936 York survey, there is evidence that it was originally intended to feature, and it is clear that impressionistic evidence of poverty was gathered by Rowntree’s investigators, as had been the case in 1899. Moreover, although it was completely expunged from the third survey of York, carried out by Rowntree and Lavers in 1950, a separate inquiry into secondary poverty was carried out in the early 1950s, with a number of prominent supporters. Subsequently, dissatisfaction with income-based definitions and measurements of poverty allowed the concept of secondary poverty to continue to exercise an influence on the study of poverty in the postwar period.