In the UK, unemployment is considered the greatest single cause of poverty. Between 1979 and 1987, the number in poverty due to unemployment more than tripled. In 1987, 42% of the poorest tenth of the population were unemployed. Families with an unemployed head are more likely to suffer poverty than pensioners, lone parents or sick or disabled people. Unemployed people spend two thirds as much of their income as those in work on food, and just over half as much on clothing. Other studies have shown that unemployed people may not have enough money to use public transport, have difficulties in buying shoes and clothing and have cut down on food. Their debts for necessities are chiefly financed by relatives who are themselves often poor.
Currently almost 40 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa live below the poverty line, and both income poverty and human poverty are increasing (UNDP 1997). According to current projections, Africa is the only continent on which poverty is expected to rise during the next century (UNDP 1998).