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Pauperism (Lat. pauper, poor) is a term meaning poverty or generally the state of being poor, but in English usage particularly the condition of being a "pauper", i.e. in receipt of relief administered under the English Poor Laws. From this springs a more general sense, referring to all those who are supported at public expense, whether within or outside of almshouses, and still more generally, to all whose existence is dependent for any considerable period upon charitable assistance, whether this assistance be public or private. In this sense the word is to be distinguished from "poverty".
Under the English Poor Laws, a person to be relieved must be a destitute person, and the moment he had been relieved he became a pauper, and as such incurred certain civil disabilities.[specify] Statistics dealing with the state of pauperism in this sense convey not the amount of destitution actually prevalent, but the particulars of people in receipt of poor law relief.
Poverty in the interwar years (1918–1939) was responsible for several measures which largely killed off the Poor Law system. Workhouses were officially abolished by the Local Government Act 1929, and between 1929–1930 Poor Law Guardians, the "workhouse test" and the term "pauper" disappeared.
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