Shame and self-esteem have long been considered inherent components of poverty. Adam Smith first emphasised the relative character of poverty, arguing that poverty was better captured by indicators such as ‘ability to go about without shame’ than absolute material measures. More recently, this relational understanding of poverty has been championed by Amartya Sen who has argued that ‘the ability to go about without shame’ should be considered a basic capacity that should be incorporated into general conceptions of poverty. Since it is widely agreed that poverty is multi-causal, and that the various factors underpinning poverty tend to interact, it is difficult to argue that low self-esteem or shame have universal or predictable effects on poverty. Low self-esteem and shame are likely to be closely bound up with a range of associated factors such as ill health, poor educational outcomes, neighbourhood and parental income.