Consensual poverty in Britain, Sweden and Bangladesh: a comparative study

Type Journal Article - Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology
Title Consensual poverty in Britain, Sweden and Bangladesh: a comparative study
Volume 4
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2007
Page numbers 56-77
URL 4.2 Mahbub.pdf
The study focuses on the construction of a normative deprivation index for Bangladesh, which
in the traditions of Townsend (1979), Mack and Lansley (1985, 1992), Halleröd (1994) and
Gordon et al. (2000), underscores items the lack of which would constitute poverty. However,
unlike these studies, the present study does not measure the head count ratio but explores
the dynamics of this normative construction of deprivation in terms of demographic and socioeconomic
variables. The data for this study come from a sample survey of 1,914 respondents,
1,207 males and 707 females, from all over Bangladesh in 2000. The normative deprivation
index for Bangladesh in 2000 shows that 17 items out of 69 appear significant at the level of
α=.01 in inter-item total correlation and more than 50 percent of respondents perceive their
absence as constituting poverty. More than 70 percent respondents agree on the importance
of 7 items: (i) three meals a day for children, (ii) two meals a day for adults, (iii) quilt for every
member of the household; (iv) milk for babies, (v) celebration of religious festivals, (vi) pillow
for every member of the household, and (vii) one pair of all-weather shoes. The British society
during 1960s was more concerned with cooked breakfast, children’s birthday party and a
week’s holiday, whereas during 1980s and 1990s, it was more preoccupied with heating,
toilet, bath, beds and damp free home. However, during late 1990s, there was a shift of trend
towards hospital visit and two meals a day. The Swedish society had more medical priorities
than others and viewed glasses, vacuum cleaner and telephone as more necessary than bed,
heating, toilet and bath as perceived by the British. In terms of correlates, the Bangladesh
deprivation index is found significantly related to occupation, education and age followed by
residence, income and gender. Thus the experience of poverty is specific to time and space; it
is society-subjective and normative.

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