Groups most at risk of poverty

Working class


Behavioral Situational Structural
·         A dependency culture has developed within the ‘underclass’

·         Patterns of consumerism reflect immediate gratification values rather than planning ahead.

·         High rate of single parenthood, thus diluting family recourses.

·         Working class have few recourses to defer.

·         Disadvantaged by unequal education system

·         Low incomes means it is difficult to support family, which contradicts the value of masculinity by middle class men so leave children and wives.

·         Subject to legal restrictions reducing the power of the working class in the labour market- Trade Union laws such as the banning of support strikes and the warning of any action that will take place.

·         Taxation system discriminates against the poor creating a ‘poverty trap’. Such as VAAT (everyone gets the same tax even though people have differing levels of income)

·         Restricted to secondary labour market which are part time, insecure with high amounts of 0 hour contracts.



Pakistan and Bangladesh have the highest levels of poverty in the UK. The proportion of Black African, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean working-age households who are workless is, at around 25%, much higher than the equivalent proportion for White British households (15%).  Only 10% of Indian working-age households are workless.


Behavioral Situational Structural
·         Typically ethnic groups have larger families, this means that the income of the ‘breadwinner’ is stretched.

·         Do not learn the language so struggle to find employment

·         Socialization of women as homemaker, the result of this is a one-income household.

·         Cultural values of ‘following in fathers footsteps” in some cases this is unemployment, dependency and therefore poverty

·         Recent arrivals take time to settle in and get established within the society

·         Many come from poorer countries so come very little money so easily fall into poverty .

·         Prejudice and discrimination in the job market

·         Lack of accepted qualification in  home county.

·         Institutional racism within society, can be argued has been created by ruling class so working class is divided.

·         Collapse of the textile industry where many Pakistanis were employed.



Official figures show women are 14% more likely than men to live in households with incomes that are 60% below the national average.


Behavioral Situational Structural
·          The increasing numbers of young girls becoming single mothers.

·         Socialization of women as homemakers, the result is a high number of one-income households.

·         Over dependency on male income

·         Lack of females in business.

·          Pregnancy and childcare force breaks in work and create dependency on their partners.

·         Informal care falls on women (care of elderly)

·         Career paths are typically low wage such as cleaning and careering roles.

·         Patriarchal society creates dependence on males with the unequal access to work and benefits.

·         Unequal distribution of household income also creates hidden poverty amongst women.



19% of individuals in families with at least one disabled member live in relative income poverty, on a before housing costs basis, compared to 15% of individuals in families with no disabled member.

21% of children in families with at least one disabled member are in poverty, a significantly higher proportion than the 16% of children in families with no disabled member.


Behavioral Situational Structural
·          Limitations on physical/mental abilities so are unable to work.

·         Phycology of dependence occurs in some cases. The disabled aspect a career and everyone else to do everything for them.

·          Additional cost that come with a disability such as ramps, an electric lift system or special dietary requirements

·         Discriminated in the labour market.

·         Society makes the disabled handicapped by restricting access thus limiting opportunities in the labour market; society is making the disabled poor.

·         Marxist argument that the disabled are less productive for capitalism in the labour market so are therefore not much ‘use’ for capitalism thus are poor.



1 in 6 pensioners (1.8 million or 16% of pensioners in the UK) live in poverty, defined as 60% of median income after housing costs Pensioners are also the biggest group of people on the brink of poverty with 1.2 million on the edge.



Behavioral Situational Structural
·          Less adoptable

·         Failure to make provisions for later life in working life (lack of sufficient pension scheme)

·         Reluctant to claim the benefits that they are entitled to (ignorance).


·          Lack rescores during work life to make provisions for retirement. ·         Fixed incomes through pensions being undermined by inflation.  The link between inflation and pensions was broken in the 1980s

·         Inadequate state pensions (only £105 a week in 2015).


Past paper questions on the topic on “Groups most at risk of poverty”


Examine the reasons why some ethnic minority groups are likely to experience poverty (24 marks) January 2010


Suggest three reasons why members of the working class may be more likely than other social groups to experience poverty.  (6 marks)


Suggest three reasons why people with disabilities may be more likely than other groups to experience poverty (6 marks) January 2011


Examine the reasons why women are more likely than men to experience poverty (24 marks) January 2012


Suggest two reasons why older people are more likely to experience poverty (4 marks) June 2012


Examine the reasons why women are at a greater risk of men of poverty, and why children and old people are at greater risk than adults of a working age (24 marks) Specimen paper 2014


Using material from item 3B and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations for the distribution of poverty amongst different social groups in the United Kingdom (24 marks) January 2013