Poverty rates by age groups

  • Published: Jun 13, 2013

The graph below shows the poverty rates for children, working age and pensioners. By clicking either 'Absolute poverty' or 'Relative poverty', you can look at that trend. The figures are shown after housing costs have been deducted. 

  • The relative measure is where the poverty line is set at 60% of median income in that year. This measure tells us how well the incomes of the poorest are holding up compared to the rest of the population. 
  • The absolute measure is where the line is set at 60% of some previous year's median. This measure tells us how the incomes of the poorest have changed over time. Essentially, it tells us how many people, given their incomes today  and with adjustments only for inflation, would have been considered to be in relative poverty at some fixed point in the past. (That fixed point is actually 2010/11, in line with the targets in the Child Poverty Act, but it could in theory be any year).
Click here to view graph on a mobile 

On the absolute measure, poverty fell substantially for all groups until around 2005, and much more slowly thereafter. On the relative measure, the fall to 2005 is less pronounced, On the relative measure, the falls in child and pensioner poverty were less pronounced up to 2005. Among working age adults, there was no fall at all. 

The last two years are worth a closer look. On the relative measure, there were small falls for all groups in 2010/11 and no changes for any groups in 2011/12. On the absolute measure, there was little change in the last set of statistics and a small rise this time round.  So in 2010/11, the poorest were somewhat protected from the worst of the falls in income. In 2011/12, this was not the case. 

This interactive graph derives from an earlier blog on the topic. Read the full blog here. Unfortunately, this visualisation cannot be viewed in older versions of Internet Explorer (IE 8 and earlier). You can download a newer version here