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A record 46 million Americans were living in poverty in 2010, pushing the US poverty rate to its highest level since 1993, according to a government report on the grim effects of stubbornly high unemployment. Underscoring the economic challenges that face President Barack Obama and Congress, the US census bureau said the poverty rate rose for a third consecutive year to hit 15.1% in 2010. The number of people in poverty was the largest since the government first began publishing estimates, in 1959.
The US has the highest poverty rate among developed countries, according to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The poverty line for a US family of four, including two children, is an income of $22,113 (£14,062) a year. The data showed that children under 18 suffered the highest poverty rate – 22% – compared with adults and the elderly. In a sign of decline for middle-income Americans, the figures showed continued decline in the number of Americans with employer-provided health insurance, while the ranks of the uninsured hovered just below the 50 million mark.
The poverty line for a US family of four, including two children, is an income of $22,113 (£14,062) a year.
Poverty in the postwar era
In another study on poverty, Wilfred Beckerman estimated that 9.9% of the British population lived below a standardised poverty line in 1973, compared with 6.1% of the population of Belgium (he also found that social security measures in Belgium had been more effective at reducing poverty than those in Britain. In 1972, 12% of British households lived in houses or flats considered to be unfit for human habitation. From 1979 to 1987, the number of Britons living in poverty (defined as living on less than half the national average income) doubled, from roughly 10% to 20% of the whole population. In 1989, almost 6 million full-time workers, representing 37% of the total full-time workforce, earned less than the “decency threshold” defined by the Council of Europe as 68% of average full-time earnings.
 How poverty in the United Kingdom is defined and measured
Poverty is defined by the Government as ‘household income below 60 percent of median income’. The median is the income earned by the household in the middle of the income distribution.
In the year 2004/2005, the 60% threshold was worth £183 per week for a two adult household, £100 per week for a single adult, £268 per week for two adults living with two children, and £186 per week for a single adult living with two children. This sum of money is after income tax and national insurance have been deducted from earnings and after council tax, rent, mortgage and water charges have been paid. It is therefore what a household has available to spend on everything else it needs.
"There are basically three current definitions of poverty in common usage: absolute poverty, relative poverty and social exclusion.
Absolute poverty is defined as the lack of sufficient resources with which to keep body and soul together.
Relative poverty defines income or resources in relation to the average. It is concerned with the absence of the material needs to participate fully in accepted daily life.
Social exclusion is a new term used by the Government. The Prime Minister described social exclusion as "…a shorthand label for what can happen when individuals or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown". - House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee 
 Other forms of poverty
Water poverty is defined by the Government as spending more than 3% of disposable income on water bills. Nationally, in 2006, nearly 10% of households were in water poverty.
Fuel poverty. A fuel poor household is one that struggles to keep adequately warm at reasonable cost. The most widely accepted definition of a fuel poor household is one which needs to spend more than 10% of its income on all fuel use and to heat the home to an adequate standard of warmth. This is generally defined as 21°C in the living room and 18°C in the other occupied rooms.
 Causes of poverty
Disability - Disabled adults are twice as likely to live in low income households as non-disabled adults. 
Being born to poor parents
Being a lone parent - half of all lone parents are on a low income.
 Current/recent figures
Defining the poverty line as those individuals and households with incomes less than 60% of their respective medians:
17-18% of the population are found to be in poverty at any one time consistently, from 1994-2004. Source: BBC News 
In 2003 to 2004, 21% of children lived in households below the poverty line. After housing costs are taken into account, this rises to 28%.
3.9 million number of single people in the UK living below the poverty line in 2005. Many of these people are divorced women. (Poverty among single people is not as high profile as that suffered by families and pensioners). Source: The Elizabeth Finn Trust/BBC News 
Nearly 60% of those in poverty are homeowners. Source: BBC News
Percentage of people living below 60% median income (ascending order):
Sweden - 12.3%
Germany - 13.1%
France - 14.1%
United Kingdom - 21.8%
United States - 23.8%
Source: Luxembourg Income Study & J.Hills/BBC News