Married couples are more likely to be affected by poverty. This, according to a 2005 Survey of Living Conditions (SLC), conducted by senior lecturers Abbi Kedir of the University of Leicester and Sandra Sookram of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. The marital status variable yielded the surprising results when compared with single-person households and family units.
The report further explained that when couples are married, it may be felt that female participation in the labour force is not essential and that it is more important to stay at home and look after children and handle household chores. However, the findings revealed that if a couple is legally separated, it is likely that such a household would not be living in poverty. It is more probable, the findings revealed, that in this transition period (the result might be divorce or being a married couple again), households, especially if children are involved, would benefit from two incomes because it may now be essential for the female to participate in the labour force.
It was also found that two- and three-person households are less likely to be poor when compared to the household of a single person. However, the findings indicate that once the household becomes relatively large, the probability of being poor increases. This is evident from the positive and significant coefficient associated with six-person households.
The findings of the report further revealed that the poverty rate in T&T is higher than the existing estimates, and socio-economic and demographic characteristics play significant roles in poverty and household welfare. From a regional point of view, it was recommended that policy makers may need to direct more attention to residents from Tobago, when drafting and implementing redistribution and poverty-reduction policies.
To be effective, these policies need to be diversified. Unsurprisingly, the report also noted that education significantly reduces the probability of poverty. This suggests that policies need to be put in place for education to play a greater role in pulling households out of poverty. In its recommendations the report stated that if T&T wants to realise its vision of becoming a developed country in ten years (2015), serious attention should be given to factors that are amenable to policy.
The results suggest that investing in education and addressing disadvantages in relation to location and ethnicity, particularly for households farther away from the poverty line (ie, the ultra poor) should be priority policy areas.