Secondary poverty

Secondary poverty is a description of poverty referring to those living below the poverty line whose income was sufficient for them to live above the line, but was spent on things other than the necessities of life.[1]

In 18th and 19th century Great Britain, the practice of temperance among Methodists, as well as their rejection of gambling, allowed them to eliminate secondary poverty and accumulate capital.[2]

The term was coined by Seebohm Rowntree after his investigations into poverty in York.

Factors contributing to secondary poverty

Alcohol use

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that "the average American consumer dedicates 1 percent of all their spending to alcohol".[3]

In Scotland, households spent an average of £8.90 a week on alcohol.[4]


In the United States, the average individual loses $400.00 USD to gambling each year.[3]

The National Anti-Gambling League, which was founded in 1890, condemned the lottery as a cause of secondary poverty.[5] More recently, sociologist Gerda Reith stated that the lottery exploited working classes who see it as one of the sole avenues for liberation from oppression.[5] Reith has stated that governments use the lottery as a means to increase their revenue, calling it an "extra form of taxation".[5]

Indeed, people in the low-income brackets (2.8%) spend a higher percentage of their household income on games of chance than people in higher income brackets (0.5%). This is important given that the risk of gambling related harm increases significantly when more than 1% of gross family income is spent on gambling activities. The additional risk of gambling for those in a lower income bracket warrants further attention with the expansion of government-operated gambling throughout Canada, especially since increased rates of problem gambling prevalence are linked to enhanced accessibility and availability[6]. Problem gambling can be defined as difficulties in limiting money and/or time spent on the activity, which leads to problems for the gambler and others[6]. According to Hahmann and Matheson (n.d.), there are two life events that can lead to homelessness; significant job loss and problem gambling.


In the United States, "14 percent of Americans' incomes are spent on cigarettes, rounding out to roughly one-seventh of their total income."[3]

In India, smokers spend ₹36,000 annually on smoking cigarettes.[7]


"Data from 2003 estimates 26% of the homeless population were drug abusers."

"A survey from 2007 notes that 23% of unemployed persons had used cocaine at least once."[8]

See also


  1. Freeman, Mark (2011). "Seebohm Rowntree and secondary poverty, 1899-19541". The Economic History Review. 64 (4): 1175–1194. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.2010.00570.x.
  2. Swatos, William H. (1998). Encyclopedia of Religion and Society. Rowman Altamira. p. 385. ISBN 9780761989561.
  3. Muniz, Katherine (24 March 2014). "20 ways Americans are blowing their money". USA Today. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  4. Milligan, Brian (16 February 2017). "ONS figures show UK spending less on alcohol and tobacco". BBC. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  5. Casey, Emma (2016). Women, Pleasure and the Gambling Experience. Routledge. p. 28. ISBN 9781134779680.
  6. Hahmann, T. E., & Matheson, F. L. (n.d.). Problem Gambling and Poverty. Retrieved March 26, 2019, from
  7. Saravanan, P (21 June 2016). "Cigarettes & smoking: Here's how to save Rs 36,000". The Financial Express. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  8. "Economic Status and Abuse". Dual Diagnosis. Retrieved 2019-03-28.

Further reading

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