The rules for avoiding poverty: stay in school, keep your job, and find love

The rules for avoiding poverty: stay in school, keep your job, and find love, by Fraser Nelson.

I asked Helen Jackson, a brilliant data analyst, to delve into the British Cohort Study, which keeps track of 17,200 children born in April 1970. We looked at those who had avoided poverty: did it matter if their father was rich or poor? Not so much. Did it matter if their parents read to them when they were younger? Only a bit. And anyway, no child can help such issues: you play the hand you’re dealt. But a lot depends on how you play it.

The first rule is to finish school: don’t drop out at 16. …

The next rule is to avoid teenage parenthood – a rule that matters to women, but not really to men. …

The third rule is to avoid long-term unemployment before your mid-20s …

The fourth and final rule is rather different: to find love. Or, more specifically, end up in a long-term relationship. Getting married proved a relatively weak predictor of who ends up in poverty – perhaps because marriage and a long-term relationships are not always the same thing and a wedding ring is no guarantee of longevity. What matters is the ability to stick together. And when it comes to fighting poverty, this matters even more than finishing school.

For those who kept all four rules, the chance of falling into poverty by the age of 34 was just 13 per cent. For those who broke all four rules, it was 78 per cent. Obeying each rule significantly reduces the chance of poverty.