The ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change used data from the British Household Panel Study to examine how poverty and low pay persist, influencing the way living standards are measured and monitored in the UK.

Without understanding the nature of poverty we cannot develop effective measures against it. The ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change used data from the British Household Panel Study to examine how individuals' and families' income and pay changes from year to year. The research has led to a far better understanding of how poverty and low pay persist, influencing the way living standards are measured and monitored in the UK.

The findings informed policies for combating child poverty, the reform of the UK tax system, and annual assessments of the Labour Government's 'Opportunity for All' programme. Analyses show that individuals tend to move into and out of poverty over time. Although the fraction of the population that is persistently poor is relatively small, the numbers of people 'touched' by poverty over a period of several years are relatively high.