Thursday, May 27, 2010

PS544: Charles Booth's map of London poverty

A good color reproduction of Booth's map is available from the University of Michigan here.

My favorite spot when in London is Half Moon Street, just north of Green Park, next door to Buckingham Palace. Shockingly the Queen has not invited me to come over for tea.  Not exactly a neighborhood of poverty in those days or these.

A very pretty large scale version of a segment of the map is here.

You can also see and download several of Booth's volumes at Google Books. Here is one.

Here are two of Booth's earliest reports presented to the Royal Statistical Society. (These are at JSTOR so you will need access to link to the articles.)  Article 1 and Article 2

A slightly later address by Booth to the Royal Statistical Society is here. (Also JSTOR.)

PS544: Charles Booth's measure of poverty

Booth ClassificationDescription of class
AThe lowest class which consists of some occasional labourers, street sellers, loafers, criminals and semi-criminals. Their life is the life of savages, with vicissitudes of extreme hardship and their only luxury is drink
BCasual earnings, very poor. The labourers do not get as much as three days work a week, but it is doubtful if many could or would work full time for long together if they had the opportunity. Class B is not one in which men are born and live and die so much as a deposit of those who from mental, moral and physical reasons are incapable of better work
CIntermittent earning. 18s to 21s per week for a moderate family. The victims of competition and on them falls with particular severity the weight of recurrent depressions of trade. Labourers, poorer artisans and street sellers. This irregularity of employment may show itself in the week or in the year: stevedores and waterside porters may secure only one of two days' work in a week, whereas labourers in the building trades may get only eight or nine months in a year.
DSmall regular earnings. poor, regular earnings. Factory, dock, and warehouse labourers, carmen, messengers and porters. Of the whole section none can be said to rise above poverty, nor are many to be classed as very poor. As a general rule they have a hard struggle to make ends meet, but they are, as a body, decent steady men, paying their way and bringing up their children respectably.
ERegular standard earnings, 22s to 30s per week for regular work, fairly comfortable. As a rule the wives do not work, but the children do: the boys commonly following the father, the girls taking local trades or going out to service.
FHigher class labour and the best paid of the artisans. Earnings exceed 30s per week. Foremen are included, city warehousemen of the better class and first hand lightermen; they are usually paid for responsibility and are men of good character and much intelligence.
GLower middle class. Shopkeepers and small employers, clerks and subordinate professional men. A hardworking sober, energetic class.
HUpper middle class, servant keeping class.