Published 14 July 2016
This paper investigates changes in the composition and spatial distribution of income poverty in London from 2001 to 2013, and considers them as evidence of gentrification. It is first argued that income poverty measures address some of the shortcomings of conventional occupational class statistics in gentrification research. The empirical analysis, using poverty proxies and spatial microsimulation income estimates, show that in the poorest, eastern parts of inner London, poverty rates fell. Here there was intense development and valorisation of land and housing around the financial districts, rapid population growth, and absolute falls in the numbers of the out-of-work poor. Poverty rates rose in the relatively disadvantaged parts of outer London. This is accounted for partly by rises in out-of-work poverty, but predominantly by the impoverishment of low-income workers through their wages becoming insufficient relative to housing costs. The paper thus confirms broad changes in the spatial distribution of poverty identified in recent studies, while pointing to the exploitation of labour and land as central mechanisms in explaining patterns of gentrification and proletarianisation in the city.