Poverty Essay for Students and Children

500+ words essay on poverty essay.

“Poverty is the worst form of violence”. – Mahatma Gandhi.

poverty essay

How Poverty is Measured?

For measuring poverty United nations have devised two measures of poverty – Absolute & relative poverty.  Absolute poverty is used to measure poverty in developing countries like India. Relative poverty is used to measure poverty in developed countries like the USA. In absolute poverty, a line based on the minimum level of income has been created & is called a poverty line.  If per day income of a family is below this level, then it is poor or below the poverty line. If per day income of a family is above this level, then it is non-poor or above the poverty line. In India, the new poverty line is  Rs 32 in rural areas and Rs 47 in urban areas.

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Causes of Poverty

According to the Noble prize winner South African leader, Nelson Mandela – “Poverty is not natural, it is manmade”. The above statement is true as the causes of poverty are generally man-made. There are various causes of poverty but the most important is population. Rising population is putting the burden on the resources & budget of countries. Governments are finding difficult to provide food, shelter & employment to the rising population.

The other causes are- lack of education, war, natural disaster, lack of employment, lack of infrastructure, political instability, etc. For instance- lack of employment opportunities makes a person jobless & he is not able to earn enough to fulfill the basic necessities of his family & becomes poor. Lack of education compels a person for less paying jobs & it makes him poorer. Lack of infrastructure means there are no industries, banks, etc. in a country resulting in lack of employment opportunities. Natural disasters like flood, earthquake also contribute to poverty.

In some countries, especially African countries like Somalia, a long period of civil war has made poverty widespread. This is because all the resources & money is being spent in war instead of public welfare. Countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. are prone to natural disasters like cyclone, etc. These disasters occur every year causing poverty to rise.

Ill Effects of Poverty

Poverty affects the life of a poor family. A poor person is not able to take proper food & nutrition &his capacity to work reduces. Reduced capacity to work further reduces his income, making him poorer. Children from poor family never get proper schooling & proper nutrition. They have to work to support their family & this destroys their childhood. Some of them may also involve in crimes like theft, murder, robbery, etc. A poor person remains uneducated & is forced to live under unhygienic conditions in slums. There are no proper sanitation & drinking water facility in slums & he falls ill often &  his health deteriorates. A poor person generally dies an early death. So, all social evils are related to poverty.

Government Schemes to Remove Poverty

The government of India also took several measures to eradicate poverty from India. Some of them are – creating employment opportunities , controlling population, etc. In India, about 60% of the population is still dependent on agriculture for its livelihood. Government has taken certain measures to promote agriculture in India. The government constructed certain dams & canals in our country to provide easy availability of water for irrigation. Government has also taken steps for the cheap availability of seeds & farming equipment to promote agriculture. Government is also promoting farming of cash crops like cotton, instead of food crops. In cities, the government is promoting industrialization to create more jobs. Government has also opened  ‘Ration shops’. Other measures include providing free & compulsory education for children up to 14 years of age, scholarship to deserving students from a poor background, providing subsidized houses to poor people, etc.

Poverty is a social evil, we can also contribute to control it. For example- we can simply donate old clothes to poor people, we can also sponsor the education of a poor child or we can utilize our free time by teaching poor students. Remember before wasting food, somebody is still sleeping hungry.

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The top 11 causes of poverty around the world

Feb 3, 2022

Woman in the DRC

Approximately 10% of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty. But why? Updated for 2022, we look at 11 of the top causes of poverty around the world.

For most of us, living on less than $2 a day seems far removed from reality. But it  is  the reality for roughly 800 million people around the globe. Approximately 10% of the global population lives in extreme poverty, meaning that they're living below the poverty line of $1.90 per day.

There is some good news: In 1990, that figure was 1.8 billion people. We've made progress. But in the last few years we've also begun to move backwards — in 2019, estimates were closer to 600 million people living in extreme poverty. Climate change and conflict have both hindered progress. The global economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic only made matters worse.

There’s no one single solution to poverty . There isn't a single cause of poverty, either. In fact, most cases of poverty in 2022 are the result of a combination of factors. Understanding what these factors are and how they work together is a critical step to sustainably ending poverty.

Learn more about the causes of poverty — and how we're solving them

1. inequality.

Let's start with something both simple and complex: Inequality is easy enough to understand as a concept. When one group has fewer rights and resources based on an aspect of their identity compared to others in a community, that's inequality. This marginalization could be based on caste, ability, age, health, social status or — most common and most pervasive — gender.

How inequality functions as a cause of poverty, however, is a bit more multifaceted. When people are given fewer rights or assets based on their ethnicity or tribal affiliation, that means they have fewer opportunities to move ahead in life. We see this often in gender inequality , especially when women have fewer rights around their health and economic power. In this case, equality isn't even relative. It doesn't matter that someone has more.  What matters is that someone else doesn't have enough.


This is especially harmful when inequality is combined with risk — which is the basic formula we use at Concern to understand the cycle of poverty . A widow raising a family of five won't have the same resources available to her husband. If she lives in an area vulnerable to the effects of climate change, that puts pressure on what few  resources she has. In some countries, this is the rule rather than the exception.

To address inequality, we must consider all groups in a community. What's more, to build equality we have to consider equality of results, as opposed to equality of resources.

2. Conflict

If poverty is caused by inequality multiplied by risk, let's talk about risks. At the top of the list of risks for poverty is conflict . Large-scale, protracted crises, such as the decade of civil war in Syria , can grind an otherwise thriving economy to a halt. As fighting continues in Syria, for example, millions have fled their homes (often with nothing but the clothes on their backs). Public infrastructure has been destroyed. Prior to 2011, as few as 10% of Syrians lived below the poverty line. Ten years later, more than 80% of Syrians now live below the poverty line.

But the nature of conflict has changed in the last few decades, and violence has become more localized. This also has a huge impact on communities, especially those that were already struggling. In some ways, it's even harder to cope as these crises go ignored in headlines and primetime news. Fighting can stretch out for years, if not decades, and leave families in a permanent state of alert. This makes it hard to plan for the long-term around family businesses, farms, or education.

A Syrian refugee woman shows the torn plastic covers of her tent in the village of Shir Hmyrin, in Akkar.

3. Hunger, malnutrition, and stunting

You might think that poverty causes hunger (and you would be right!). But hunger is also a cause — and maintainer — of poverty . If a person doesn’t get enough food, they’ll lack the strength and energy needed to work. Or their immune system will weaken from malnutrition and leave them more susceptible to illness that prevents them from getting to work.

In Ethiopia, stunting contributes to GDP losses as high as 16%.

This can lead to a vicious cycle, especially for children. From womb to world, the first 1,000 days of a child’s life are key to ensuring their future health. For children born into low-income families, health is also a key asset to their breaking the cycle of poverty. However, if a mother is malnourished during pregnancy, that can be passed on to her children. The costs of malnutrition may be felt over a lifetime: Adults who were stunted as children earn, on average, 22% less than those who weren't stunted. In Ethiopia, stunting contributes to GDP losses as high as 16%.

Workitt Kassaw Ali, who, along with her husband, Ketamaw, joined Concern Ethiopia’s ReGrade program in 2017.

4. Poor healthcare systems — especially for mothers and children

As we saw above with the effects of hunger, extreme poverty and poor health go hand-in-hand. In countries with weakened health systems, easily-preventable and treatable illnesses like malaria , diarrhea, and respiratory infections can be fatal. Especially for young children.

When people must travel far distances to clinics or pay for medicine, it drains already vulnerable households of money and assets. This can tip a family from poverty into extreme poverty. For women in particular, pregnancy and childbirth can be a death sentence.  Maternal health is often one of the most overlooked areas of healthcare in countries that are still built around patriarchal structures. New mothers and mothers-to-be are often barred from seeking care without their father's or husband's permission. Adolescent girls who are pregnant (especially out of wedlock) face even greater inequities and discrimination.

5. Little (or zero) access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene

Currently, more than 2 billion people don’t have access to clean water at home. This means that people collectively spend 200 million hours every day walking long distances to fetch water. That’s precious time that could be used working, or getting an education to help secure a job later in life. And if you guessed that most of these 200 million hours are shouldered by women and girls… you're correct. Water is a women's issue as well as a cause of poverty.

Contaminated water can also lead to a host of waterborne diseases, ranging from the chronic to the life-threatening. Poor water infrastructure — such as sanitation and hygiene facilities — can compound this. It can also create other barriers to escaping poverty, such as preventing girls from going to school during their cycles.

Concern Community workers Justin Mwihire Bulunga and Anita Kalamo help construct a hand washing station

6. Climate change

Climate change causes poverty , working as an interdependent link between not only extreme poverty but also many of the other causes on this list — including hunger , conflict, inequality, and a lack of education (see below). One report from the World Bank estimates that the climate crisis has the power to push more than 100 million people into poverty over the next decade.

Many of the world’s poorest populations rely on farming or hunting and gathering to eat and earn a living. Malawi, as an example, is 80% agrarian. They often have only just enough food and assets to last through the next season, and not enough reserves to fall back on in the event of a poor harvest. So when climate change or natural disasters (including the widespread droughts caused by El Niño ) leave millions of people without food, it pushes them further into poverty, and can make recovery even more difficult.

poverty essay causes

How climate change keeps people in poverty

By 2030, climate change could force more than 100 million people into extreme poverty.

7. Lack of education

Not every person without an education is living in extreme poverty. But most adults living in extreme poverty did not receive a quality education. And, if they have children, they're likely passing that on to them. There are many barriers to education around the world , including a lack of money for uniforms and books or a cultural bias against girls’ education .

But education is often referred to as the great equalizer. That's because it can open the door to jobs and other resources and skills that a family needs to not just survive, but thrive. UNESCO estimates that 171 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty if they left school with basic reading skills. Poverty threatens education, but education can also help end poverty .

Classmates following a class 6 lesson at the Muslim Brotherhood School in Masakong

8. Poor public works and infrastructure

What if you have to go to work, but there are no roads to get you there? Or what if heavy rains have flooded your route and made it impossible to travel? We're used to similar roadblocks (so to speak) in the United States. But usually we can rely on our local governments to step in.

A lack of infrastructure — from roads, bridges, and wells, to cables for light, cell phones, and internet — can isolate communities living in rural areas. Living off the grid often means living without the ability to go to school, work, or the market to buy and sell goods. Traveling further distances to access basic services not only takes time, it costs money, keeping families in poverty.

As we've found in the last two years, isolation limits opportunity. Without opportunity, many find it difficult, if not impossible, to escape extreme poverty.

9. Global health crises including epidemics and pandemics

Speaking of things we've learned over the last two years… A poor healthcare system that affects individuals, or even whole communities, is one cause of poverty. But a large-scale epidemic or pandemic merits its own spot on this list. COVID-19 isn't the first time a public health crisis has fueled the cycle of poverty. More localized epidemics like Ebola in West Africa (and, later, in the DRC ), cholera in Haiti or the DRC, or malaria in Sierra Leone have demonstrated how local and national governments can grind to a halt while working to stop the spread of a disease, provide resources to frontline workers and centers, and come up with contingency plans as day-to-day life is disrupted.

All of this comes, naturally, at a cost. In Guinea, Liberia , and Sierra Leone — the three countries hit hardest by the 2014-16 West African Ebola epidemic — an estimated $2.2 billion was lost across all three countries' GDPs in 2015 as a direct result of the epidemic. This included losses in the private sector, agricultural production, and international trade.

poverty essay causes

The crisis in Kenya: Climate, COVID, and hunger

The worst drought in four decades, the worst locust invasion in seven, plus the domino effects of a global pandemic have northern Kenyans living out an underreported crisis and facing an uncertain future.

10. Lack of social support systems

In the United States, we're familiar with social welfare programs that people can access if they need healthcare or food assistance. We also pay into insurances against unemployment and fund social security through our paychecks. Theses systems ensure that we have a safety net to fall back on if we lose our job or retire.

But not every government can provide this type of help to its citizens. Without that safety net, there’s nothing to stop vulnerable families from backsliding further into extreme poverty. Especially in the face of the unexpected.

11. Lack of personal safety nets

If a family or community has reserves in place, they can weather some risk. They can fall back on savings accounts or even a low-interest loan in the case of a health scare or an unexpected layoff, even if the government doesn't have support systems to cover them. Proper food storage systems can help stretch a previous harvest if a drought or natural disaster ruins the next one.

At its core, poverty is a lack of basic assets or a lack on return from what assets a person has.

People living in extreme poverty can't rely on these safety nets, however. At its core, poverty is a lack of basic assets or a lack on return from what assets a person has. This leads to negative coping mechanisms, including pulling children out of school to work (or even marry ), and selling off assets to buy food. That can help a family make it through one bad season, but not another. For communities constantly facing climate extremes or prolonged conflict, the repeated shocks can send a family reeling into extreme poverty and prevent them from ever recovering.

poverty essay causes

Solutions to Poverty to Get Us To 2030

What would Zero Poverty look like for the world in 2030? Here are a few starting points.

How can you help?

At Concern, we believe that zero poverty is possible, especially when we work with communities to address both inequalities and risks. Last year, we reached 36.9 million people with programs designed to address the specific causes of extreme poverty in countries, communities, and families.

Pictured in the banner image for this story is one of those people, Adrenise Lusa. Born 60 years ago in the DRC's Manono Territory, Adrenise joined Concern's Graduation program in 2019 and participated in trainings on income generation and entrepreneurship, which gave her ideas on how to increase her production and income. With monthly cash transfers as part of Graduation and a loan from her community Village Savings and Loans Association, she invested in a few income-generating activities including goat rearing and trading oil, maize, and cassava. Prior to joining Graduation, she had the ideas. But, as she explains, "I didn’t start these businesses because I just didn’t have enough money."

Since launching her new ventures, Adrenise has increased her income from approximately 30,000 francs per month to anywhere between 100–400,000 francs per month, depending on the season. She's used her additional income to buy a plot of land and build a new house, feed her family with more nutritious food, and send her son and daughter to university.

You can make your own impact by supporting our efforts working with the world’s poorest communities. Learn more about the other ways you can help the fight against poverty.

More about the causes of poverty

poverty essay causes

Extreme Poverty and Hunger: A Vicious Cycle

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  • Introduction

Cyclical poverty

Collective poverty, concentrated collective poverty, case poverty.

view archival footage of the impoverished American population in the aftermath of the stock market crash of 1929

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view archival footage of the impoverished American population in the aftermath of the stock market crash of 1929

poverty , the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. Poverty is said to exist when people lack the means to satisfy their basic needs. In this context , the identification of poor people first requires a determination of what constitutes basic needs. These may be defined as narrowly as “those necessary for survival” or as broadly as “those reflecting the prevailing standard of living in the community.” The first criterion would cover only those people near the borderline of starvation or death from exposure; the second would extend to people whose nutrition, housing, and clothing, though adequate to preserve life, do not measure up to those of the population as a whole. The problem of definition is further compounded by the noneconomic connotations that the word poverty has acquired. Poverty has been associated, for example, with poor health, low levels of education or skills, an inability or an unwillingness to work, high rates of disruptive or disorderly behaviour, and improvidence. While these attributes have often been found to exist with poverty, their inclusion in a definition of poverty would tend to obscure the relation between them and the inability to provide for one’s basic needs. Whatever definition one uses, authorities and laypersons alike commonly assume that the effects of poverty are harmful to both individuals and society.

Although poverty is a phenomenon as old as human history, its significance has changed over time. Under traditional (i.e., nonindustrialized) modes of economic production, widespread poverty had been accepted as inevitable. The total output of goods and services, even if equally distributed, would still have been insufficient to give the entire population a comfortable standard of living by prevailing standards. With the economic productivity that resulted from industrialization , however, this ceased to be the case—especially in the world’s most industrialized countries , where national outputs were sufficient to raise the entire population to a comfortable level if the necessary redistribution could be arranged without adversely affecting output.

Groups of depositors in front of the closed American Union Bank, New York City. April 26, 1932. Great Depression run on bank crowd

Several types of poverty may be distinguished depending on such factors as time or duration (long- or short-term or cyclical) and distribution (widespread, concentrated, individual).

(Read Indira Gandhi’s 1975 Britannica essay on global underprivilege.)

Cyclical poverty refers to poverty that may be widespread throughout a population, but the occurrence itself is of limited duration. In nonindustrial societies (present and past), this sort of inability to provide for one’s basic needs rests mainly upon temporary food shortages caused by natural phenomena or poor agricultural planning. Prices would rise because of scarcities of food, which brought widespread, albeit temporary, misery.

In industrialized societies the chief cyclical cause of poverty is fluctuations in the business cycle , with mass unemployment during periods of depression or serious recession . Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the industrialized nations of the world experienced business panics and recessions that temporarily enlarged the numbers of the poor. The United States’ experience in the Great Depression of the 1930s, though unique in some of its features, exemplifies this kind of poverty. And until the Great Depression, poverty resulting from business fluctuations was accepted as an inevitable consequence of a natural process of market regulation . Relief was granted to the unemployed to tide them over until the business cycle again entered an upswing. The experiences of the Great Depression inspired a generation of economists such as John Maynard Keynes , who sought solutions to the problems caused by extreme swings in the business cycle. Since the Great Depression, governments in nearly all advanced industrial societies have adopted economic policies that attempt to limit the ill effects of economic fluctuation. In this sense, governments play an active role in poverty alleviation by increasing spending as a means of stimulating the economy. Part of this spending comes in the form of direct assistance to the unemployed, either through unemployment compensation , welfare, and other subsidies or by employment on public-works projects. Although business depressions affect all segments of society, the impact is most severe on people of the lowest socioeconomic strata because they have fewer marginal resources than those of a higher strata.

In contrast to cyclical poverty, which is temporary, widespread or “ collective ” poverty involves a relatively permanent insufficiency of means to secure basic needs—a condition that may be so general as to describe the average level of life in a society or that may be concentrated in relatively large groups in an otherwise prosperous society. Both generalized and concentrated collective poverty may be transmitted from generation to generation, parents passing their poverty on to their children.

Collective poverty is relatively general and lasting in parts of Asia, the Middle East , most of Africa, and parts of South America and Central America . Life for the bulk of the population in these regions is at a minimal level. Nutritional deficiencies cause disease seldom seen by doctors in the highly developed countries. Low life expectancy , high levels of infant mortality, and poor health characterize life in these societies.

Collective poverty is usually related to economic underdevelopment. The total resources of many developing nations in Africa, Asia, and South and Central America would be insufficient to support the population adequately even if they were equally divided among all of the citizens. Proposed remedies are twofold: (1) expansion of the gross national product (GNP) through improved agriculture or industrialization, or both, and (2) population limitation. Thus far, both population control and induced economic development in many countries have proved difficult, controversial, and at times inconclusive or disappointing in their results.

An increase of the GNP does not necessarily lead to an improved standard of living for the population at large, for a number of reasons. The most important reason is that, in many developing countries, the population grows even faster than the economy does, with no net reduction in poverty as a result. This increased population growth stems primarily from lowered infant mortality rates made possible by improved sanitary and disease-control measures. Unless such lowered rates eventually result in women bearing fewer children, the result is a sharp acceleration in population growth. To reduce birth rates, some developing countries have undertaken nationally administered family-planning programs, with varying results. Many developing nations are also characterized by a long-standing system of unequal distribution of wealth —a system likely to continue despite marked increases in the GNP. Some authorities have observed the tendency for a large portion of any increase to be siphoned off by persons who are already wealthy, while others claim that increases in GNP will always trickle down to the part of the population living at the subsistence level.

In many industrialized, relatively affluent countries, particular demographic groups are vulnerable to long-term poverty. In city ghettos , in regions bypassed or abandoned by industry, and in areas where agriculture or industry is inefficient and cannot compete profitably, there are found victims of concentrated collective poverty. These people, like those afflicted with generalized poverty, have higher mortality rates, poor health, low educational levels, and so forth when compared with the more affluent segments of society. Their chief economic traits are unemployment and underemployment, unskilled occupations, and job instability. Efforts at amelioration focus on ways to bring the deprived groups into the mainstream of economic life by attracting new industry, promoting small business, introducing improved agricultural methods, and raising the level of skills of the employable members of the society.

Similar to collective poverty in relative permanence but different from it in terms of distribution, case poverty refers to the inability of an individual or family to secure basic needs even in social surroundings of general prosperity. This inability is generally related to the lack of some basic attribute that would permit the individual to maintain himself or herself. Such persons may, for example, be blind, physically or emotionally disabled , or chronically ill. Physical and mental handicaps are usually regarded sympathetically, as being beyond the control of the people who suffer from them. Efforts to ameliorate poverty due to physical causes focus on education, sheltered employment, and, if needed, economic maintenance.

A color photograph of a mother and son in a car. Both are holding dogs on their laps and a third dog lays his head over the passenger seat.

Why Poverty Persists in America

A Pulitzer Prize-winning sociologist offers a new explanation for an intractable problem.

A mother and son living in a Walmart parking lot in North Dakota in 2012. Credit... Eugene Richards

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By Matthew Desmond

  • Published March 9, 2023 Updated April 3, 2023

In the past 50 years, scientists have mapped the entire human genome and eradicated smallpox. Here in the United States, infant-mortality rates and deaths from heart disease have fallen by roughly 70 percent, and the average American has gained almost a decade of life. Climate change was recognized as an existential threat. The internet was invented.

On the problem of poverty, though, there has been no real improvement — just a long stasis. As estimated by the federal government’s poverty line, 12.6 percent of the U.S. population was poor in 1970; two decades later, it was 13.5 percent; in 2010, it was 15.1 percent; and in 2019, it was 10.5 percent. To graph the share of Americans living in poverty over the past half-century amounts to drawing a line that resembles gently rolling hills. The line curves slightly up, then slightly down, then back up again over the years, staying steady through Democratic and Republican administrations, rising in recessions and falling in boom years.

What accounts for this lack of progress? It cannot be chalked up to how the poor are counted: Different measures spit out the same embarrassing result. When the government began reporting the Supplemental Poverty Measure in 2011, designed to overcome many of the flaws of the Official Poverty Measure, including not accounting for regional differences in costs of living and government benefits, the United States officially gained three million more poor people. Possible reductions in poverty from counting aid like food stamps and tax benefits were more than offset by recognizing how low-income people were burdened by rising housing and health care costs.

The American poor have access to cheap, mass-produced goods, as every American does. But that doesn’t mean they can access what matters most.

Any fair assessment of poverty must confront the breathtaking march of material progress. But the fact that standards of living have risen across the board doesn’t mean that poverty itself has fallen. Forty years ago, only the rich could afford cellphones. But cellphones have become more affordable over the past few decades, and now most Americans have one, including many poor people. This has led observers like Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill, senior fellows at the Brookings Institution, to assert that “access to certain consumer goods,” like TVs, microwave ovens and cellphones, shows that “the poor are not quite so poor after all.”

No, it doesn’t. You can’t eat a cellphone. A cellphone doesn’t grant you stable housing, affordable medical and dental care or adequate child care. In fact, as things like cellphones have become cheaper, the cost of the most necessary of life’s necessities, like health care and rent, has increased. From 2000 to 2022 in the average American city, the cost of fuel and utilities increased by 115 percent. The American poor, living as they do in the center of global capitalism, have access to cheap, mass-produced goods, as every American does. But that doesn’t mean they can access what matters most. As Michael Harrington put it 60 years ago: “It is much easier in the United States to be decently dressed than it is to be decently housed, fed or doctored.”

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Mental health effects of poverty, hunger, and homelessness on children and teens

Exploring the mental health effects of poverty, hunger, and homelessness on children and teens

Rising inflation and an uncertain economy are deeply affecting the lives of millions of Americans, particularly those living in low-income communities. It may seem impossible for a family of four to survive on just over $27,000 per year or a single person on just over $15,000, but that’s what millions of people do everyday in the United States. Approximately 37.9 million Americans, or just under 12%, now live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau .

Additional data from the Bureau show that children are more likely to experience poverty than people over the age of 18. Approximately one in six kids, 16% of all children, live in families with incomes below the official poverty line.

Those who are poor face challenges beyond a lack of resources. They also experience mental and physical issues at a much higher rate than those living above the poverty line. Read on for a summary of the myriad effects of poverty, homelessness, and hunger on children and youth. And for more information on APA’s work on issues surrounding socioeconomic status, please see the Office of Socioeconomic Status .

Who is most affected?

Poverty rates are disproportionately higher among most non-White populations. Compared to 8.2% of White Americans living in poverty, 26.8% of American Indian and Alaska Natives, 19.5% of Blacks, 17% of Hispanics and 8.1% of Asians are currently living in poverty.

Similarly, Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous children are overrepresented among children living below the poverty line. More specifically, 35.5% of Black people living in poverty in the U.S. are below the age of 18. In addition, 40.7% of Hispanic people living below the poverty line in the U.S. are younger than age 18, and 29.1% of American Indian and Native American children lived in poverty in 2018. In contrast, approximately 21% of White people living in poverty in the U.S. are less than 18 years old.

Furthermore, families with a female head of household are more than twice as likely to live in poverty compared to families with a male head of household. Twenty-three percent of female-headed households live in poverty compared to 11.4% of male-headed households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau .

What are the effects of poverty on children and teens?

The impact of poverty on young children is significant and long lasting. Poverty is associated with substandard housing, hunger, homelessness, inadequate childcare, unsafe neighborhoods, and under-resourced schools. In addition, low-income children are at greater risk than higher-income children for a range of cognitive, emotional, and health-related problems, including detrimental effects on executive functioning, below average academic achievement, poor social emotional functioning, developmental delays, behavioral problems, asthma, inadequate nutrition, low birth weight, and higher rates of pneumonia.

Psychological research also shows that living in poverty is associated with differences in structural and functional brain development in children and adolescents in areas related to cognitive processes that are critical for learning, communication, and academic achievement, including social emotional processing, memory, language, and executive functioning.

Children and families living in poverty often attend under-resourced, overcrowded schools that lack educational opportunities, books, supplies, and appropriate technology due to local funding policies. In addition, families living below the poverty line often live in school districts without adequate equal learning experiences for both gifted and special needs students with learning differences and where high school dropout rates are high .

What are the effects of hunger on children and teens?

One in eight U.S. households with children, approximately 12.5%, could not buy enough food for their families in 2021 , considerably higher than the rate for households without children (9.4%). Black (19.8%) and Latinx (16.25%) households are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity, with food insecurity rates in 2021 triple and double the rate of White households (7%), respectively.

Research has found that hunger and undernutrition can have a host of negative effects on child development. For example, maternal undernutrition during pregnancy increases the risk of negative birth outcomes, including premature birth, low birth weight, smaller head size, and lower brain weight. In addition, children experiencing hunger are at least twice as likely to report being in fair or poor health and at least 1.4 times more likely to have asthma, compared to food-secure children.

The first three years of a child’s life are a period of rapid brain development. Too little energy, protein and nutrients during this sensitive period can lead to lasting deficits in cognitive, social and emotional development . School-age children who experience severe hunger are at increased risk for poor mental health and lower academic performance , and often lag behind their peers in social and emotional skills .

What are the effects of homelessness on children and teens?

Approximately 1.2 million public school students experienced homelessness during the 2019-2020 school year, according to the National Center for Homeless Education (PDF, 1.4MB) . The report also found that students of color experienced homelessness at higher proportions than expected based on the overall number of students. Hispanic and Latino students accounted for 28% of the overall student body but 38% of students experiencing homelessness, while Black students accounted for 15% of the overall student body but 27% of students experiencing homelessness. While White students accounted for 46% of all students enrolled in public schools, they represented 26% of students experiencing homelessness.

Homelessness can have a tremendous impact on children, from their education, physical and mental health, sense of safety, and overall development. Children experiencing homelessness frequently need to worry about where they will live, their pets, their belongings, and other family members. In addition, homeless children are less likely to have adequate access to medical and dental care, and may be affected by a variety of health challenges due to inadequate nutrition and access to food, education interruptions, trauma, and disruption in family dynamics.

In terms of academic achievement, students experiencing homelessness are more than twice as likely to be chronically absent than non-homeless students , with greater rates among Black and Native American or Alaska Native students. They are also more likely to change schools multiple times and to be suspended—especially students of color.

Further, research shows that students reporting homelessness have higher rates of victimization, including increased odds of being sexually and physically victimized, and bullied. Student homelessness correlates with other problems, even when controlling for other risks. They experienced significantly greater odds of suicidality, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, risky sexual behavior, and poor grades in school.

What can you do to help children and families experiencing poverty, hunger, and homelessness?

There are many ways that you can help fight poverty in America. You can:

  • Volunteer your time with charities and organizations that provide assistance to low-income and homeless children and families.
  • Donate money, food, and clothing to homeless shelters and other charities in your community.
  • Donate school supplies and books to underresourced schools in your area.
  • Improve access to physical, mental, and behavioral health care for low-income Americans by eliminating barriers such as limitations in health care coverage.
  • Create a “safety net” for children and families that provides real protection against the harmful effects of economic insecurity.
  • Increase the minimum wage, affordable housing and job skills training for low-income and homeless Americans.
  • Intervene in early childhood to support the health and educational development of low-income children.
  • Provide support for low-income and food insecure children such as Head Start , the National School Lunch Program , and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) .
  • Increase resources for public education and access to higher education.
  • Support research on poverty and its relationship to health, education, and well-being.
  • Resolution on Poverty and SES
  • Pathways for addressing deep poverty
  • APA Deep Poverty Initiative

What Causes Poverty in the World Report (Assessment)

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Poverty Rates in the World

Overpopulation and world poverty, culture and world poverty, global distribution of resources: historical injustices and poverty in nations, education and unemployment, environmental degradation, inflation and development approaches, works cited.

This essay discusses the causes of poverty in the world. Poverty and related social inequality are as old as human history. Over the years, people have postulated many causes of poverty and social inequality. The many causes of poverty not withstanding, many definitions of the phenomena have been established. Whichever the definition, poverty is associated with want, lack of or deprivation of necessities in life. According to World Bank, people are individuals who survive on less than a dollar per day.

Despite the fact that living below a dollar, especially in urban areas, is an indicator of being poor, this definition does not apply in given contexts. For people living in some rural areas, the value of what they use as per their market pricing is lower than a dollar. However, considering the quality of life they live, they are better off than many others who live on more than ten dollars a day in the big cities of the world. Therefore, poverty is a complex concept and highly relative in its application or misapplication.

The world of today has the many people living in better socio-economic conditions than a century ago. However, the divide between the rich has widened over the years with the poor in the world forming an overwhelming majority. Statistics indicate that Africa carries the bulk of the poor in the world.

However, even in highly developing nations like India and China, given regions are notably highly impoverished. The impoverished regions of the world are characterized by dilapidated housing, lack of access to education, health care, frequent famines and other humanitarian disasters and catastrophes.

Due to poor infrastructure, response to problems is not efficient and effective enough thus resultant high impacts of disasters that would otherwise be averted. To understand this point better, one has to consider how a natural disaster like a tsunami of say Katrina’s magnitude would affect a third world country. The effects would be high due to poor response unlike what actually happened in the USA.

One of the major factors that have contributed to poverty in given areas of the world is overpopulation (Jones 137). The condition of having many people with fewer available resources combined with little space inevitably results in poverty. Uncontrolled birth rates, in places like Africa, have resulted in a general population boom.

The population upsurge has continually exerted pressure on available resources in the world. The available resource in given countries can only support a given number of people (McCarthy 42). One of the critical resources that support mankind is farming. A majority of people around the world depend on farming or general agriculture for sustenance. Population upsurge and resultant splitting of land into smaller pieces has led to less food production.

Culture is one of the reasons why people remain glued to practices that perpetuate poverty. For example, in some developing countries the more children one has the higher he or she is regarded in society. Cultural practices in traditional rural communities usually sanction the ability of large members of the family (Baker 154).

The governments of most third world countries give little or no attention to family planning because it goes against the cultural assumptions of the people. People anticipating to have smaller families experience difficulty in realizing this as others consider them weird (Rohr 105). Surging population rates point to even higher poverty rates in developing countries (Rohr 149).

Some thinkers have attributed poverty in some parts of the world to unequal distribution of resources. The legacy of colonialism is largely blamed for unequal resource distribution in the world economy (Baker 1).

Most of the developing countries have put more efforts to develop and strengthen their economies with technology and industries but this has been unsuccessful. The inequality in world economy due to historical events has largely hampered poverty alleviation efforts in the world (Pogge 17). Colonialists, for example, left Africa with a very weak infrastructure i.e. transport systems, power generation and communication after bludgeoning the resources of the colonies.

These happenings have derailed all aspects of moving away from poverty because the infrastructure is critical in the development of industries and expansion of the economy (Pogge 123). In recent years, wealthier countries have been accused of neocolonialism i.e. economic based dominance. This influence has enabled the wealthier countries to acquire inexpensive resources such as oil, ores and mineral from poor countries (Fields 59).

Lack of educational opportunities hampers development especially of children from rural areas (Baker 26). For the educated, lack of employment opportunities denies them an opportunity for social mobility. The rural areas in most countries of the world have high rates of illiteracy.

Illiteracy has been more severe in developing countries especially Africa south of the Sahara. Governments of poor countries have faced the inability to provide good and efficient public schools thus not marching with developments in the developing countries. Without good and sound education people fail to find a meaningful income.

Most poor people, in rural areas, forego going to school to facilitate concentration on how to make a minimal living (Iceland 79). Developing countries provide minimal employment opportunities, especially for women, which dampens the youth’s morale of going to school. When people do not work, there is no money which is earned and thus this increases high unemployment rate which in turn increases the level of poverty (Gilbert 131).

Environmental degradation in many parts of the world has led to the increase of poverty in the world. The world natural resources, which support mankind and enable growth and development, are slowly getting depleted due to unsustainable usage.

The climatic conditions have been changing gradually and natural habitats have slowly but surely been severely changed (Fields 167). Water bodies, atmosphere, forests and soils have deteriorated and this is a major cause of increasing world poverty. Global environmental degradation has led to the phenomenon of global warming.

Weather conditions are no longer steady but rather erratic and unpredictable. Over use of fertilizers and other wrong use of land has highly affected crop yield. Intensive farming or land over use, for instance, has lead to soil infertility and decrease in crop production (Fields 218).

Pollution from industries such as power production, mining, automobiles, agricultural fertilizers and chemical production has adversely affected adequate food production, availability of clean water for drinking, and facilitated destruction of natural habitats especially for aquatic beings.

Deforestation has brought environmental effects especially in developing countries where some sections of the population depend entirely on forests as source of food and wood to power their activities. Their survival efforts have largely contributed to deforestation and its related effects (Fields 225). Forests absorb pollutant and offers catchment area for water. Without forests, the rain cycle is affected leading to increased famines in the world.

Poverty in the world is linked to economic trends. Developed countries, such as the United States in the 1950s, experienced high income growth (Dudley 167). Most families doubled their income within this period. However, in 1970s and early 1990s, inflation grew steadily hence raising the cost of living.

The economic recession of the 1980s adversely affected families; the young and less educated people could not get well paying jobs to support themselves. The change of labor market in most developed countries has also further aggravated the situation of poverty in the world today (Dudley 215).

The number of well paying jobs in the manufacturing industries has declined whereas in the service and technology industries, workers have significantly increased. Most people who cannot afford college education experiences hardship in securing a well paying work hence they are locked out of social mobility.

Moreover, in most wealthy countries, many people living in poverty have increased because of the rising inequality in the way resources are distributed. For instance in the United States, 20% of the poor have got smaller percentage of the total national income whereas the wealthy have increasingly earned much higher national income of 45%.

During this period, the middle and bottom income distribution has been progressively worse as the cost of living has gone up (Kendall 67). Demographic shifts have contributed to poverty especially among the children. In the US for example, family structures have been altered significantly increasing single parenting. This has increased poverty in the world (Kendall 73).

Poverty levels have been soaring around the world despite improved economic fortunes for a minority. The major causes of world poverty are improper policies and development approaches or plans undertaken in different nations. Economic imbalance or inequalities resulting from historical injustices also maintain a world order that does not sustain all. To alleviate world poverty, issues like overpopulation, environmental degradation among other factors have to be looked into more closely.

Baker, Judy, L. Poverty Reduction and Human Development in the Caribbean: a cross- country study, Parts 63-366 . Washington: World Bank Publication.1997

Fields, Gary, S. Poverty, Inequality, and Development . Florida: CUP Archive. 1980

Gilbert, Geoffrey. World poverty: a Reference handbook, Contemporary world issues. California: ABC-CLIO. 2004

Iceland, John. Poverty in America: a handbook . California: University of California Press. 2006

Jones, Philip, W. Education, Poverty and the World Bank . New Jersey: Sense Publishers. 2006

Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times . Connecticut: Cengage Learning, 2007

McCarthy, Callaghan. The Causes of Poverty . East Yorkshire: P. S. King & Son, 1908

Pogge, Thomas, Winfried, Menko. World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms . Cambridge: Polity, 2008

  • The Impact of Overpopulation on the Global Environment
  • How Overpopulation Affects Our Economy
  • Overpopulation Challenges in China
  • Justification for the title, ‘There are no children here’
  • Poverty in Brazil
  • Why Poverty Rates are Higher Among Single Black Mothers
  • Urban Slum in the "City of God" (2002)
  • Poverty and Its Impact on Global Health: Research Methodologies
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  • Chicago (N-B)

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Extreme poverty: How far have we come, and how far do we still have to go?

The world has made immense progress against extreme poverty, but it is still the reality for almost one in ten people worldwide..

Two centuries ago, the majority of the world population was extremely poor. Back then, it was widely believed that widespread poverty was inevitable. But this turned out to be wrong. Economic growth is possible, and poverty can decline. The world has made immense progress against extreme poverty.

But even after two centuries of progress, extreme poverty is still the reality for every tenth person in the world. This is what the ‘international poverty line’ highlights – this metric plays an important (and successful) role in focusing the world’s attention on the very poorest people in the world.

The poorest people today live in countries that have achieved no economic growth. This stagnation of the world’s poorest economies is one of the largest problems of our time. Unless this changes, hundreds of millions of people will continue to live in extreme poverty.

The state of poverty today

There are poor people in every country, people who live in poor housing and who struggle to afford basic goods and services like heating, transport, and healthy food for themselves and their families.

The definition of poverty differs from country to country, but in high-income countries, the poverty line is around $30 per day . 1

Even in the world’s richest countries, a substantial share of people – between every 10th and every 5th person – lives below this poverty line.

In the map below, and in all international poverty statistics on Our World in Data, the data is adjusted for inflation and cross-country differences in the price level. The expandable section below the map provides a more detailed explanation of how.

Basics of global poverty measurement

Throughout this article – and in global income and expenditure data generally – the statisticians who produce these figures are careful to make these numbers as comparable as possible.

Non-monetary sources of income are taken into account

Many poor people today and in the past rely on subsistence farming and do not have a monetary income. To take this into account and make a fair comparison of their living standards, the statisticians that produce these figures estimate the monetary value of their home production and add it to their income/expenditure.

Differences in purchasing power and inflation are taken into account

The data is expressed in international dollars . This is a hypothetical currency that results from price adjustments across time and place. 2  An international dollar is defined as having the same purchasing power as one US-$ in the US . This means no matter where in the world a person is living on int.-$30, they can buy the goods and services that cost $30 in the US. None of these adjustments are ever going to be perfect, but in a world where price differences are large, it is important to attempt to account for these differences as well as possible, and this is what these adjustments do. 3

Throughout this text, I’m always adjusting incomes for price changes over time and price differences between countries in this way. All dollar values discussed here are presented in int.-$; the UN does the same for the $2.15 poverty line. Sometimes I leave out ‘international’ as it is awkward to repeat it all the time; but every time I mention any $ amount in this text, I’m referring to international-$ and not US-$. 4

Global data is a mix of income and expenditure data

There is no global survey of incomes: researchers need to rely on the available national surveys. Such surveys are designed with cross-country comparability in mind, but because they reflect the circumstances and priorities of individual countries, there are some important differences across countries. In most high-income countries, the surveys capture people’s incomes, while in poorer countries, these surveys tend to capture people’s consumption.

The two concepts are closely related: the income of a household equals their consumption plus any saving (or minus any borrowing). When speaking about these statistics, it would therefore be accurate to speak about ‘the income of people in richer countries and the monetary value of consumption in poorer countries’. But since it’d be a bit much to repeat this every time, researchers simply speak of ‘living standards’ or ‘income’ instead. I do the same in this text.

We can apply this $30-a-day-poverty-line to the global income distribution to see the share in poverty as judged by the definition of poverty in high-income countries. 5

The latest global data tells us that the huge majority – 84% of the world population – live on less than $30 per day. That means 6.7 billion people.

Showing the global income distribution and highlighting that 84% are living below $30 per day

Why is an extremely low poverty line necessary?

Extreme poverty is defined by the UN as living on less than $2.15 a day. Why do we need a poverty line that is so extremely low?

It is not enough to measure global poverty solely by a higher poverty line because a large number of people are living in extreme poverty. Without an extremely low poverty line, we would not be able to see that a large share of the world lives in such deep poverty.

If we’d only rely on the poverty line from high-income countries, we would hide the differences between people with very different living standards. Whether someone was living on almost $30 a day or on thirty times less would not matter – they would all be considered ‘poor’.

It is however a good idea to add additional poverty lines. As the following chart shows, this can draw attention to the large income differences between people and highlights how many live on extremely low incomes. 6

Showing the global income distribution and highlighting that 8% live in extreme poverty

The $2.15 poverty line, set by the UN, shows that globally close to one in ten people live in extreme poverty. In all these statistics, the researchers are not only taking people’s monetary income into account, but also their non-monetary income and home production. One reason why this is important is because many poor people are small-scale farmers who produce their own food. 7

The UN’s global poverty line is valuable because it has been successful in drawing attention to the terrible depths of extreme poverty of the poorest people in the world. 8

In a related essay , I focus on global poverty as defined by a higher poverty line.

The big lesson of the last 200 years: Economic growth is possible, poverty is not inevitable

What needs explanation is not poverty, but prosperity. Deep poverty was the condition that the majority of humanity has always lived in. In the pre-modern days, hunger was widespread , and every second child died no matter where in the world it was born.

Historian Michail Moatsos has recently produced a new global dataset that goes back two centuries. The chart shows his data. According to his research three-quarters of the world lived in extreme poverty in 1820. This means they "could not afford a tiny space to live, some minimum heating capacity, and food that would not induce malnutrition.” 9

The chart looks simple, but it would be a mistake to think that it was simple to produce this data. Underlying it is a wealth of careful historical research that Moatsos made use of. Historians gathered data for people around the world over two centuries to reconstruct how many of them were able to afford a set of very basic goods and services and aggregated this detailed information into this final picture. You find more information on the methodology in the footnote. 10

Economic growth made it possible to leave poverty behind

Economic growth made it possible to leave the widespread extreme poverty of the past behind. It made the difference between a society in which the majority were lacking even the most basic goods and services – food, decent housing and clothes, healthcare, public infrastructure and transport – and a society in which these products are widely available.

Growth means that a society produces an increasing quantity and quality of economic goods and services. The key to economic growth is the development of technology that makes it possible to increase productivity by which these goods and services are produced.

Because the total production in an economy equals the total income in that country – as everyone’s spending is someone else’s income – incomes grow at the same rate as production increases.

The 9 charts show the data for different regions in the world. On the horizontal axis of each chart, you find the average income (GDP per capita) and on the vertical axis you see the share living in extreme poverty. The starting point of each trajectory shows the data for 1820 and it tells us that two centuries ago the majority of people lived in extreme poverty, no matter where in the world they were at home. 11 Since then, all world regions achieved growth – the production of goods and services increased – and the share living in poverty declined.

[See also my related article: 'What is Economic Growth? ]

poverty essay causes

Most extremely poor people today are living in Africa

How far do we still have to go?

The previous chart showed that Sub-Saharan Africa is the poorest region. Almost 40% of the population lives in extreme poverty.

Not all African countries are struggling. In fact, most African countries have achieved good growth after the end of the oppressive colonial regimes that hindered the growth of African economies. But in a number of countries, the situation is bad. These countries remain as poor as they were in the past. Since the economy is stagnant, poverty is too.

In the chart below, you see that mean incomes have actually fallen in some of the world’s poorest countries. 12

To see the consequences of this, let’s first focus on one country that achieved large growth and then contrast it with a country that did not.

A country that achieved large growth is the UK: the orange distribution on the left shows incomes in the UK two centuries ago; the majority lived in extreme poverty. The green distribution shows how the distribution of incomes has changed since then. Two centuries of economic growth lifted the majority of people out of the deep poverty of the past. 13

poverty essay causes

The next chart shows the income distribution of the UK in 2019 in green – just as in the previous chart – and in red the income distribution of Madagascar, a country that did not achieve growth.

The majority of people in Madagascar still live in extreme poverty. Very similar to the global situation two centuries ago, three-quarters of Madagascar’s population are living in extreme poverty.

poverty essay causes

Not just economic growth, but also the distribution of that growth matters. If the inequality of income increases, the poorest can be left behind.

But without economic growth, there is no chance at all to leave poverty behind. The data from Madagascar makes clear that a reduction of inequality cannot end extreme poverty in a poor country. If inequality in Madagascar would be entirely eradicated, then everyone would live on the average income. In Madagascar, this is $1.60 a day. For poor countries, the only way to end poverty is an increase in incomes – economic growth.

The majority of the world is making good progress against poverty, but not all: some of the very poorest economies are stagnating

The history of extreme poverty is, at the same time, one of humanity’s greatest achievements and failures.

The majority of the world left extreme poverty behind. To me, this ranks among the most impressive and most important achievements in humanity’s history.

But, as we’ve seen, the fight against extreme poverty is far from over. Almost one in ten people still live in extreme poverty right now.

The worry with extreme poverty today is that some of the world’s poorest countries are not growing. Unless this changes, hundreds of millions of people will continue to live in extreme poverty.

Crucially this was true before the pandemic hit – even before COVID, researchers expected that half a billion people would remain in extreme poverty by 2030. The global recession that followed the pandemic exacerbated this further.

When it comes to the consequences of climate change , this is what I am most worried about. Richer people will be able to adapt in many ways. It is the extremely poor population that will be hardest hit.

The economic stagnation of some of the world's poorest countries is not as widely known as it should be. I think it deserves more attention. If the stagnation of the very poorest economies persists, we will see a growing divide at the lowest end of the global income distribution. While the living standards of the majority of the world are rising, some of the world’s very poorest people remain in extreme poverty.

Whether or not the poorest countries achieve growth is among the most important questions for the coming years. It will decide whether humanity wins its long fight against extreme poverty or not.

Last updated in 2023

This article was first published on November 22, 2021. It was last updated in August 2023.

For the moment, it is important to note that this $30 per day poverty line is defined in international-$ and therefore comparable with the ‘International Poverty Line’ discussed in the following section. More details about how to compare incomes across countries, the income concept here, and the definition of this poverty line follow further below in this text.

This is possible by relying on the work of the International Comparison Project , which monitors the prices of goods and services around the world.

Angus Deaton and Alan Heston (2010) discuss the methods behind such price adjustments and many of the difficulties and limitations involved.

Deaton, A., and Heston, A. 2010. “Understanding PPPs and PPP-Based National Accounts.” American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics 2 (4): 1–35. A working paper version is available online here .

Keep in mind that in the special case of the US, the US-$ equals the international-$.

Remember that these statistics take the cost of living into account – a person who lives on less than int-$30 is a person who cannot afford the goods and services that cost US-$30 in the US .

If you want to explore this data for any world region or any individual country, you can do so here .

See also the previous box on poverty measurement. This is, of course, also true of the historical research.

Indeed, there is an argument for using an even lower poverty line. To understand what is happening to the very poorest in the world, we need to look even lower than $2.15. This is because one of the biggest failures of development is that over the last decades, the incomes of the very poorest people have not risen. A big part of the reason for why this issue doesn’t get discussed enough is that the International Poverty Line we rely on is too high to see this fact.

Michail Moatsos (2021) – Global extreme poverty: Present and past since 1820. Published in OECD (2021), How Was Life? Volume II: New Perspectives on Well-being and Global Inequality since 1820 , OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/3d96efc5-en .

The sources for the measures shown in this chart and the following chart are:

Jutta Bolt and Jan Luiten van Zanden (2021) – The GDP data in the chart is taken from The long view on economic growth: New estimates of GDP, How Was Life? Volume II: New Perspectives on Well-being and Global Inequality since 1820 , OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/3d96efc5-en .

The latest datapoint for the poverty data refers to 2018, while the latest datapoint for GDP per capita in the chart below refers to 2016. In that chart, I have chosen the middle year (2017) as the reference year.

The historical poverty research was done by economic historian Michail Moatsos and is based on the ‘cost of basic needs’-approach as suggested by Robert Allen (2017) and recommended by the late Tony Atkinson.

The ‘cost of basic needs’-approach was recommended by the ‘World Bank Commission on Global Poverty’, headed by Tony Atkinson, as a complementary method in measuring poverty. The report for the ‘World Bank Commission on Global Poverty’ can be found here .

Tony Atkinson – and after his death, his colleagues – turned this report into a book that was published as Anthony B. Atkinson (2019) – Measuring Poverty around the World. You find more information on Atkinson’s website .

The CBN-approach Moatsos’ work is based on was suggested by Allen in Robert Allen (2017) – Absolute poverty: When necessity displaces desire. In American Economic Review, Vol. 107/12, pp. 3690-3721, https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.20161080

Moatsos describes the methodology as follows: “In this approach, poverty lines are calculated for every year and country separately, rather than using a single global line. The second step is to gather the necessary data to operationalize this approach, alongside imputation methods in cases where not all the necessary data are available. The third step is to devise a method for aggregating countries’ poverty estimates on a global scale to account for countries that lack some of the relevant data.” In his publication – linked above – you find much more detail on all of the shown poverty data.

The speed at which extreme poverty declined increased over time, as the chart shows. Moatsos writes, “It took 136 years from 1820 for our global poverty rate to fall under 50%, then another 45 years to cut this rate in half again by 2001. In the early 21st century, global poverty reduction accelerated, and in 13 years, our global measure of extreme poverty was halved again by 2014.”

Parts of Western Europe and the US had already achieved some growth in the decades before this chart begins so that the share in poverty had already fallen, but even in 1820 the majority was still living in extreme poverty there

In the centuries and millennia before, no region in the world had achieved sustained economic growth (see, for example, my post on the Malthusian Trap and links therein). The chart here focuses on the very exceptional two last centuries when economic growth reduced widespread poverty.

You can explore related data in detail in this chart for growth measured as GDP per capita and in our Poverty Data Explorer .

The data shown in the small plots of the income distribution in the UK and Madagascar is again taken from PovcalNet – the predecessor to the World Bank's Poverty and Inequality Platform – Gapminder, and Michail Moatsos 2021.

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Causes of poverty

The “blame the poor” perspective is stereotypic and not applicable to all of the underclass. Not only are most poor people able and willing to work hard, they do so when given the chance. The real trouble has to do with such problems as minimum wages and lack of access to the education necessary for obtaining a better‐paying job.

More recently, sociologists have focused on other theories of poverty. One theory of poverty has to do with the flight of the middle class, including employers, from the cities and into the suburbs. This has limited the opportunities for the inner‐city poor to find adequate jobs. According to another theory, the poor would rather receive welfare payments than work in demeaning positions as maids or in fast‐food restaurants. As a result of this view, the welfare system has come under increasing attack in recent years.

Again, no simple explanations for or solutions to the problem of poverty exist. Although varying theories abound, sociologists will continue to pay attention to this issue in the years to come.

The effects of poverty

  • Many infants born into poverty have a low birth weight, which is associated with many preventable mental and physical disabilities. Not only are these poor infants more likely to be irritable or sickly, they are also more likely to die before their first birthday.
  • Children raised in poverty tend to miss school more often because of illness. These children also have a much higher rate of accidents than do other children, and they are twice as likely to have impaired vision and hearing, iron deficiency anemia, and higher than normal levels of lead in the blood, which can impair brain function.

Levels of stress in the family have also been shown to correlate with economic circumstances. Studies during economic recessions indicate that job loss and subsequent poverty are associated with violence in families, including child and elder abuse. Poor families experience much more stress than middle‐class families. Besides financial uncertainty, these families are more likely to be exposed to series of negative events and “bad luck,” including illness, depression, eviction, job loss, criminal victimization, and family death. Parents who experience hard economic times may become excessively punitive and erratic, issuing demands backed by insults, threats, and corporal punishment.

Homelessness , or extreme poverty, carries with it a particularly strong set of risks for families, especially children. Compared to children living in poverty but having homes, homeless children are less likely to receive proper nutrition and immunization. Hence, they experience more health problems. Homeless women experience higher rates of low‐birth‐weight babies, miscarriages, and infant mortality, probably due to not having access to adequate prenatal care for their babies. Homeless families experience even greater life stress than other families, including increased disruption in work, school, family relationships, and friendships.

Sociologists have been particularly concerned about the effects of poverty on the “black underclass,” the increasing numbers of jobless, welfare‐dependent African Americans trapped in inner‐city ghettos. Many of the industries (textiles, auto, steel) that previously offered employment to the black working class have shut down, while newer industries have relocated to the suburbs. Because most urban jobs either require advanced education or pay minimum wage, unemployment rates for inner‐city blacks are high.

Even though Hispanic Americans are almost as likely as African Americans to live in poverty, fewer inner‐city Hispanic neighborhoods have undergone the same massive changes as many black neighborhoods have. Middle and working class Hispanic families have not left their barrio, or urban Spanish‐speaking neighborhood, in large numbers, so most Hispanic cultural and social institutions there remain intact. In addition, local Hispanic‐owned businesses and low‐skill industries support the barrio with wage‐based, not welfare‐based, businesses.

Climbing out of poverty is difficult for anyone, perhaps because, at its worst, poverty can become a self‐perpetuating cycle. Children of poverty are at an extreme disadvantage in the job market; in turn, the lack of good jobs ensures continued poverty. The cycle ends up repeating itself until the pattern is somehow broken.

Feminist perspective on poverty

This feminization of poverty may be related to numerous changes in contemporary America. Increases in unwanted births, separations, and divorces have forced growing numbers of women to head poor households. Meanwhile, increases in divorced fathers avoiding child support coupled with reductions in welfare support have forced many of these women‐headed households to join the ranks of the underclass. Further, because wives generally live longer than their husbands, growing numbers of elderly women must live in poverty.

Feminists also attribute the feminization of poverty to women's vulnerability brought about by the patriarchal, sexist, and gender‐biased nature of Western society, which does not value protecting women's rights and wealth.

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Home / Essay Samples / Social Issues / Poverty / What Is Poverty: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

What Is Poverty: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

  • Category: Social Issues
  • Topic: Poverty

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Defining Poverty

Causes of poverty.

  • Income Inequality: Widening income inequality within societies can result in a significant portion of the population living in poverty while a small elite accumulates vast wealth.
  • Unemployment and Underemployment: Lack of access to stable employment opportunities, as well as underemployment (jobs that do not provide a livable wage), contribute to poverty.
  • Lack of Education: Limited access to quality education can perpetuate cycles of poverty, as individuals may struggle to acquire the skills and knowledge needed for better-paying jobs.
  • Healthcare Disparities: Inadequate access to healthcare and healthcare disparities can lead to health-related expenses that push individuals and families into poverty.
  • Discrimination and Marginalization: Discrimination based on factors such as race, gender, ethnicity, and disability can limit opportunities and reinforce poverty.
  • Geographic Factors: Poverty can be concentrated in certain geographic regions, where limited economic opportunities and resources are available.
  • Social Safety Nets: Inadequate social safety nets, including unemployment benefits and food assistance programs, can leave vulnerable individuals without a safety net when they face economic hardships.

Effects of Poverty

  • Health: Poverty is linked to higher rates of chronic illnesses, malnutrition, and limited access to healthcare, resulting in poorer overall health and reduced life expectancy.
  • Education: Children living in poverty often face barriers to quality education, leading to lower educational attainment and limited future opportunities.
  • Psychological Impact: Poverty can contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression, as individuals grapple with financial instability and uncertainty.
  • Crime and Violence: High levels of poverty are often associated with increased crime rates and violence within communities.
  • Social Exclusion: Poverty can lead to social exclusion and limited participation in civic and community life.
  • Inter-generational Cycle: Poverty can be transmitted from one generation to the next, creating a cycle that is difficult to break.

Solutions to Poverty

  • Economic Policies: Implementing policies that promote economic growth, equitable income distribution, and fair wages can reduce poverty rates.
  • Education and Skills Development: Investing in education and skills training programs can empower individuals to access better job opportunities.
  • Access to Healthcare: Ensuring universal access to quality healthcare can mitigate the health-related consequences of poverty.
  • Social Safety Nets: Expanding social safety net programs, such as unemployment benefits and food assistance, can provide a safety net for those facing economic hardships.
  • Affordable Housing: Addressing housing affordability issues can prevent homelessness and improve overall living conditions.
  • Eliminating Discrimination: Enforcing anti-discrimination laws and promoting diversity and inclusion can reduce barriers to economic opportunities.
  • Community Development: Investing in marginalized communities through infrastructure development and job creation can uplift entire neighborhoods.
  • Global Cooperation: Addressing global poverty requires international collaboration to reduce inequality, promote economic development, and provide humanitarian assistance.

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When analyzing such a global issue, one should consider historical and cultural factors. Nations that are among the poorest in the world were once colonies, or areas from which richer countries exported slaves; also, some of these territories were drained of resources. Rare exceptions like Canada or Australia do not deny the fact that, for example, almost the entire continent of Africa is a problematic area in terms of poverty and hunger. This happened due to the fact that colonialism contributed to the establishment of conditions where people living in former colonies cannot access capital or education. In addition, there exist several hot spots in the world where wars and political instability also cause a significant decrease in the quality of life: Syria, Egypt, Ukraine, and so on ( The Borgen Project ).

Perhaps the most direct causal link exists between poverty and the balance between a country’s population density and its agricultural capabilities. Although such countries as the Netherlands or Belgium have a high density of population, their agricultural industry is based on mechanized farming and high-tech solutions, so poverty and hunger have no chance there. The same refers to other technologically-advanced countries. In contrast, Bangladesh, which has one of the world’s largest population densities (2,791 persons in a square mile) exists on the edge of extreme poverty—mostly because the majority of population is involved in low-efficient manual farming. On the other hand, there are countries in Africa with only about 80 persons per square mile, but because of low soil fertility, and the use of manual labor, these countries cannot boost their productivity and development ( povertyhci.weebly.com ).

Along with objective poverty factors, it is also important to consider social factors—in particular, psychological traits that many poor people possess. In many developed countries, poor people do not try to improve their financial conditions, relying on welfare payments provided to them by governments (CliffsNotes). Due to the lack of education and skills (also caused by the inability to pay for them), they cannot work at well-paid jobs, although they can still become maids, cleaners, postal workers, couriers, and so on. Doing so would enable such people to earn more money necessary for education and personal development, but they prefer to keep the status quo.

Reasons of poverty are numerous, and it is difficult to analyze the entire complex of causes of such a global issue. However, some of them are obvious: a colonial background, wars and political instability, dense population combined with low agricultural capabilities, and certain psychological traits of poor people. These factors help keep poverty in the world’s list of the most urgent problems.

“Top 5 Causes of Poverty.” The Borgen Project. N.p., 25 June 2013. Web. 21 May 2015.

“Poverty at Large: A Dark Spot in Humanity.”Http://povertyhci.weebly.com/. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2015.

“Causes and Effects of Poverty.” CliffNotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2015.

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Home — Essay Samples — Social Issues — Homelessness — Introduction to Poverty: Causes, Effects, and Management


Introduction to Poverty: Causes, Effects, and Management

  • Categories: Homelessness Hunger Poverty in America

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Words: 2156 |

11 min read

Published: May 17, 2022

Words: 2156 | Pages: 5 | 11 min read

Table of contents

Introduction, global trends of poverty, causes of poverty, effects/impacts of poverty on the family, management and control, poverty in europe, poverty in africa, poverty in kenya, lack/poor education, feminization, low economic growth performance, divorce/separation, stress/depression, emotional and physical wellbeing of the children, the governments should come up with initiatives to alleviate poverty, educating the families and equipping them with technical skills.

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poverty essay causes

Human Rights Careers

10 Common Root Causes of Poverty

Poverty is a global problem. According to the World Bank in 2015 , over 700 million people were living on less than $1.90 a day. While that represents a milestone (in 1990, it was over one billion ) that’s still way too many people. That number also includes extreme poverty that is defined by the UN as “a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services.”

What causes poverty in the first place? Here are ten root causes:

#1. Lack of good jobs/job growth

This is the first reason a lot of people think about. When you don’t have a good job, you aren’t getting a good income. In many countries, traditional jobs like farming are disappearing. The Democratic Republic of Congo is a good example, where most of the population live in rural areas stripped of natural resources from years of colonialism. Half of the DRC live below the poverty line. Even in nations like the United States where many people do have jobs, those jobs aren’t paying enough. According to the Economic Policy Institute , large groups of workers with full-time, year-round employment are still below federal poverty guidelines.

#2: Lack of good education

The second root cause of poverty is a lack of education. Poverty is a cycle and without education, people aren’t able to better their situations. According to UNESCO , over 170 million people could be free of extreme poverty if they only had basic reading skills. However, in many areas of the world, people aren’t getting educated. The reasons vary. Often times, families need kids to work, there aren’t schools close by, or girls aren’t being educated because of sexism and discrimination.

#3: Warfare/conflict

Conflict has a huge impact on poverty. In times of war, everything stops. Productivity suffers as well as a country’s GDP. It’s very difficult to get things going again as foreign businesses and countries won’t want to invest. For families and individuals, war and conflict can make it impossible to stay in one place. It’s also very common for women to become the primary breadwinners, and they deal with many barriers like sexual violence and discrimination.

#4: Weather/climate change

According to the World Bank , climate change has the power to impoverish 100 million people in the next decade or so. We know climate change causes drought, floods, and severe storms, and that can take down successful countries while pulling poor ones down even further. Recovering is extremely difficult, as well, especially for agricultural communities where they barely have enough to feed themselves, let alone prepare for the next harvest year.

#5: Social injustice

Whether it’s gender discrimination, racism, or other forms of social injustice, poverty follows. People who are victims of social injustice struggle with getting a good education, the right job opportunities, and access to resources that can lift them out of poverty. The United Nations Social Policy and Development Division identifies “inequalities in income distribution and access to productive resources, basic social services, opportunities” and more as a cause for poverty. Groups like women, religious minorities, and racial minorities are the most vulnerable.

#6: Lack of food and water

Without access to basic essentials like food and water, it’s impossible to get out of poverty’s cycle. Everything a person does will be about getting food and water. They can’t save any money because it all goes towards their daily needs. When there isn’t enough sustenance, they won’t have the energy to work. They are also way more likely to get sick, which makes their financial situation even worse.

#7: Lack of infrastructure

Infrastructure includes roads, bridges, the internet, public transport, and more. When a community or families are isolated, they have to spend a lot of money, time, and energy getting to places. Without good roads, traveling takes forever. Without public transport, it may be next to impossible to get a good job or even to the store. Infrastructure connects people to the services and resources they need to better their financial and life situation, and without it, things don’t get better.

#8: Lack of government support

To combat many of the issues we’ve described, the government needs to be involved. However, many governments are either unable or unwilling to serve the poor. This might mean failing to provide (or cutting) social welfare programs, redirecting funds away from those who need it, failing to build good infrastructure, or actively persecuting the population. If a government fails to meet the needs of the poor, the poor will most likely stay that way.

#9: Lack of good healthcare

People who are poor are more likely to suffer from bad health, and those with bad health are more likely to be poor. This is because healthcare is often too expensive or inaccessible to those who need it. Without money for medicine and treatment, the poor have to make really tough decisions, and usually essentials like food take priority. People who are sick get sicker, and then they can’t work, which makes the situation even more dire. If people do seek treatment, the cost often ruins their finances. It’s a vicious cycle.

#10: High costs

The last root of poverty is simple: stuff costs too much. Even the basics can be too expensive. According to stats from the World Food Programme, the poorest households in the world are spending 60-80% of their incomes on food. Food prices are also very unpredictable in certain areas, so when they rise, the poor have to keep cutting out other essentials. Housing is another essential that is rising. Global house markets have been climbing, according to the International Monetary Fund. Income growth, however, has not.

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About the author, emmaline soken-huberty.

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.

Poverty: Causes and Solutions to Problem

Introduction, the causes of poverty, inclusive economic growth as an answer to poverty, employment opportunities and entrepreneurship.

Poverty is a global economic and social problem that has persisted throughout the centuries. Attempts to establish the causes of poverty and the solutions to the issue have been made since the emergence of early civilizations. Despite the significant drop in the numbers of the extremely poor in the past few decades, particularly in developing countries, poverty remains one of the most serious challenges to governments worldwide. Economic growth can help alleviate many issues that cause poverty. Creating new jobs and improving universal access to education and medical care can considerably enhance the quality of life for low-income households. However, the research proves that economic development benefits the deprived groups only when governments implement targeted socio-economic policies and keep track of their efficiency.

There are multiple theories that try to establish the causes of poverty. Some of those explain it using solely economic models; others consider social factors as well. The first kind focuses on how low per capita income creates intergenerational poverty caused by inadequate access to education and health care (Sabah et al., 2017). However, these theories are somewhat limited, as, for example, in countries lacking quality education and health care, higher income does not necessarily guarantee a better life. Other theories point out the significance of social (ethnic, gender, religious) disparities as a limiting factor, especially in developing countries (Sabah et al., 2017). Several studies have established the relation between poverty and the size of the household. Islam et al. (2016) note that households with more than five members, a young head of the family, and female-headed households are the most vulnerable. Overall, most scholars agree that poverty is defined by limited access to vital resources. It is a complex phenomenon caused by a multitude of economic, political, and social factors, which requires a holistic approach in its analysis.

Numerous scholars have questioned the impact of economic growth on poverty levels over the last few decades. However, multiple studies prove that the economic boom at the end of the 20th century helped resolve long-standing poverty issues in developing countries. Khan et al. (2019) state that “economic growth at macro-level consequent better health services and improved quality of education, whereas at micro-level it consequent increased individual’s income and provided employment opportunities, thereby reducing poverty” (p. 769). Fosu (2017) attributes the significant change in poverty levels in Latin American and Asian countries in the last quarter of the 20th century to high GDP growth. However, GDP growth is not necessarily indicative of lower poverty rates. Fosu (2017) notes that “income is generally a better reflector of poverty than GDP is” (p. 313). According to Škare and Družeta (2016), economic growth in China and India resulted in a significant increase in per capita income, despite soaring income inequalities. While the perception of the relation between economic development and lower poverty levels has evolved significantly throughout the last decades, most researchers agree that growth is essential to fighting poverty.

Nevertheless, income inequality is a major factor that can reduce the positive impact of a healthy economy. Fosu (2017) states that income disparities in Botswana have persisted despite rapid GDP growth, while lesser progress in the Ghanaian economy had a more significant impact on poverty levels. Corruption is another factor that can hinder the positive effect of growth. Niyimbanira (2017) notes that in many African countries, economic development primarily benefited the elites and did not change much for low-income households. Škare and Družeta (2016) conclude that the original “trickle-down” theory of the post-war period, which implies that a healthy economy guarantees lower poverty levels, needs serious reconsideration. The latest research shows that while economic growth is essential in order to alleviate poverty, its impact can vary significantly depending on other social and political factors. Therefore, it should be used to implement social policies and make investments in jobs, education, and health sectors that target the most deprived and vulnerable groups.

Economic development contributes to the creation of new jobs, which can significantly reduce poverty levels. Nguyen (2016) states that “there is a positive relationship between high unemployment and widespread poverty” (p. 115). Therefore, the reduction of unemployment rates should be one of the governments’ main priorities in developing countries. Nguyen (2016) observers that the Caribbean states with a high focus on human capital have been far more successful in handling the poverty issue than other countries in the region. Niyimbanira (2017) underpins the significance of creating job opportunities that can provide a decent stable income for unemployed youth. Along with job creation, increasing the minimum wage is crucial to reduce poverty in developing countries (Niyimbanira, 2017). The poor are often inclined to accept any job offers, even those that do not provide sufficient income (Ramadhani & Putra, 2019). However, it is important to notice that in countries where a significant fraction of the labor force is employed unofficially, raising the minimum wage will not change much (Ramadhani & Putra, 2019). Overall, sustainable job creation is arguably the most important tool in eliminating poverty.

In developed countries, policymakers often emphasize the crucial role of entrepreneurship in fighting poverty. Lee and Rodriguez-Pose (2020) note that “rapid growth forces firms to be more inclusive when hiring” (para. 9). However, as previously noted, lower unemployment does not guarantee a reduction in poverty levels, and the impact of entrepreneurship on the poor has to be studied in more detail. Lee and Rodriguez-Pose (2020) state that only entrepreneurship in tradable sectors contributes to reducing poverty. Thus, governments should prioritize investment in manufacturing, financial services, and research and development as entrepreneurship in these sectors might be of the greatest benefit to low-income families.

Education is another key factor that impacts average income growth. Ramadhani and Putra (2019) state that insufficient education limits one’s job opportunities and reduces potential income. Economic development can be used to improve access to high-quality education for the poor and increase their employment opportunities. Niyimbanira (2017) argues that low skills and the absence of decent education are the driving forces of unemployment and poverty in developing countries. For example, in South Sudan, over 80 percent of the earners in low-income households have no formal education (Shimeles & Verdier-Chouchane, 2016). However, despite the importance of universal primary education, poor families in African countries are often reluctant to send their children to school. According to Shimeles and Verdier-Chouchane (2016), “low returns to primary education reduce incentives for households to send children to school, thereby limiting the poverty mitigating scope of primary education” (p. 168). Targeted income subsidies for primary education could solve this problem (Shimeles & Verdier-Chouchane, 2016). However, to implement these initiatives, stable economic growth is required.

Higher education plays an equally important role in alleviating poverty. In the 2000s, Surin and Si-Saket provinces in northeastern Thailand have shown significant GDP per capita growth; however, only Surin managed to significantly reduce poverty levels (Moore & Donaldson, 2016). The success of the policies implemented in Surin was largely a result of well-educated local youth engagement in NGOs that offered support to local farmers and prevented the implementation of harmful initiatives (Moore & Donaldson, 2016). This case shows how economic growth can contribute to reducing poverty through better education, and how quality education, in turn, can lead to economic growth.

Ensuring universal access to medical care is a measure that can significantly improve the quality of life for the most marginalized groups. The inefficiency of the healthcare industry remains one of the most pressing issues in African countries. Health issues decrease individuals’ chances of getting well- paid jobs and contribute to poverty. Bawah et al. (2019) cite the Community Health and Family Planning Project (CHPS) as an example of a successful policy that addresses poverty issues in Ghana. The study confirms that qualified professionals in rural communities helped lower child mortality rates and decrease health issues among the populace (Bawah et al., 2019). Providing access to quality medical care, in this case, helped reduce the gap between the rich and the poor through decreasing the economic pressure on low-income households.

While poverty is a phenomenon usually associated with developing countries, it remains a pressing issue even in the US. In the developed countries, high costs of medical care can contribute towards higher poverty levels, especially among the minorities (Remler et al., 2017). Implementation of social policies in healthcare in the US is an example of the inclusive economic growth approach that can lead to poverty alleviation. Remler et al. (2017) state that “Medicaid reduced poverty among its recipients by a remarkable 17.1 percentage points” (p. 1834). Overall, the benefits of public health insurance programs have a significant correlation to poverty reduction (Remler et al., 2017). Therefore, in the developed countries, policymakers should seek to implement public programs and premium benefits, as they have proven to be efficient in the fight against poverty.

Poverty alleviation is a complex issue that requires a systematic approach. As the causes of poverty can vary significantly across the globe, empirical research is necessary to find efficient policies in every specific case. While economic growth arguably had a significant impact on poverty levels in less developed regions at the end of the 20th century, the research has proven that an increase in GDP has not benefited the poor in many countries. Numerous examples of inefficient use of political and financial assets in Africa, Latin America, and Asia show that economic development leads to a reduction in poverty only when the governments implement targeted pro-poor policies. Employment and education opportunities, as well as accessible health care for low-income households, should be prioritized. Numerous studies confirm that targeting these areas leads to a significant reduction in poverty levels in the long term, and it helps to close the gap between the poorest and the rich. The most recent research established that inequality has a strong impact on poverty levels. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that low-income households actually benefit from economic growth, and it does not lead to larger income discrepancies instead.

Bawah, A. A., Philips, J. F., Asuming, P. O., Jackson, E. F., Walega, P., Kanmiki, E. W., Sheff, M. C., & Oduro, A. (2019). Does the provision of community health services offset the effects of poverty and low maternal educational attainment on childhood mortality? An analysis of the equity effect of the Navrongo experiment in Northern Ghana . SSM – Population Health, 7.

Fosu, A. K. (2017). Growth, inequality, and poverty reduction in developing countries: Recent global evidence . Research in Economics, 71 (2), 306-336.

Islam, D., Sayeed, J., & Hossain, N. (2016). On determinants of poverty and inequality in Bangladesh . Journal of Poverty, 21 (4), 1-20.

Khan, H. U. R., Nassani, A. A., Aldakil, A. M., Abro, M. M. Q., Islam, T., & Zaman, K. (2019). Pro-poor growth and sustainable development framework: Evidence from two step GMM estimator . Journal of Cleaner Production, 206, 767-784.

Lee, N., & Rodriguez-Pose, A. (2020). Entrepreneurship and the fight against poverty in US cities . Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, preprint.

Moore, J. D., & Donaldson, J. A. (2016). Human-scale economics: Economic growth and poverty reduction in northeastern Thailand. World Development, 85, 1-15. 

Nguyen, H. Q. (2016). Relationship between economic growth, unemployment and poverty: Analysis at provincial level in Vietnam . International Journal of Economics and Finance, 8 (12), 113-119.

Niyimbanira, F. (2017). Analysis of the impact of economic growth on income inequality and poverty in South Africa: The case of Mpumalanga province. International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, 7 (4), 254-261.

Remler, D. K., Korenman, S. D., & Hyson, R. T. (2017). Estimating the effects of health insurance and other social programs on poverty under the Affordable Care Act . Health Affairs, 36 (10), 1828-1837.

Ramadani, F., & Putra, F. S. (2019). Having a job is Not enough to escape poverty: Case of Indonesian working poors. IPTEK Journal of Proceedings Series, 6, 58-64.

Sabah, A, Rusdi, O., & Mohd Udin, M. (2017). Theories of poverty to the integrative theory. A comparative analysis: Accordance to the situation of Iraq . IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 22 (5), 47-50.

Shimeles, A. & Verdier-Chouchane, A. (2016). The key role of education in reducing poverty in South Sudan . African Development Review, 28 (2), 162-176.

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  • Poverty Essay for Students in English


Essay on Poverty

Poverty is a disease that has no cure. The deeper this disease is, the deeper its wound. By the way, man lives under compulsion. But usually one wants to avoid it. Poverty is a condition of extreme poverty for any person or human being. This is a situation when a person starts to lack important things in his life such as the roof, necessary food, clothes, medicines, etc. to continue his life.

The causes of poverty are excessive population, fatal and contagious diseases, natural disasters, low agricultural yields, unemployment, casteism, illiteracy, gender inequality, environmental problems, changing trends in the economy of the country, untouchability, little or limited access to people's rights, Problems such as political violence, sponsored crime, corruption, lack of encouragement, inaction, ancient social beliefs, etc. have to be faced.

Poverty has become a big problem of the world, efforts are being made across the world today to remove poverty, but the problem is that it does not take the name of ending. This problem affects a human's economic and daily life. Poverty teaches man to live like a slave in which he has to change the place over time, in this situation due to the lack of education of the poor, his nature and speech also make a difference. Living in a world of poor people has become a curse. Getting enough money to get food is like getting relief from a curse for the poor, that's why they do not have access to education.

Reasons of Poverty

There are many reasons that have continued with carrying it for a long time. Because of this,  freedom, mental and physical fitness, and lack of security in a person remains. It is very important that in order to live a normal life, the country and the whole world will have to work together to bring proper physical and mental health, complete education, a home for everyone, and other important things.

In today's time, there is the problem of poverty which gives all the pain, pain, and despair to the poor. Due to the lack of money from poverty, I show the lack of many things. Poverty makes children spend life in compulsion. If forced to make bread, sometimes in bringing children's books. At that time he is also unable to raise children.

We can tell poverty in many ways like it has become a common thing in India. Most of the people here are unable to get the things they need. Here a vast section of the population is illiterate, hungry, and forced to live without clothes and a home. About half of India's population suffers from this epidemic of poverty.

A poor person lives his life without possession of basic things like food for two times, clean water, house, clothes, proper education, etc. There are many reasons for poverty in India. Incorrect distribution of national income is also a reason. People in the low-income group are much poorer than those in the high-income group. Children of poor families never get proper education, nutrition, and a happy childhood environment. The main cause of poverty is illiteracy, corruption, growing population, weak agriculture, the growing gap between rich and poverty, etc.

Measures to Control Poverty

Corruption has to be erased.

Unemployed will have to give proper employment

A growing population will have to be stopped

Farmers have to be given proper facilities for farming

Education should be provided to children for proper education

Poverty is not just a human problem but it is a national problem. It should be solved by implementing some effective methods on a quick basis. Every person should be united by ending corruption. A problem has been created in which he does not get even the basics. That is why at present, many measures are being taken to prevent poverty so that the standard of living of people around the world can be improved.

Short Essays on Poverty

Poverty is akin to being a slave, as a person cannot achieve anything he desires. It has various faces that alter depending on who you are, where you are, and when. It can be defined in various ways depending on how a person feels or experiences it.

Poverty is a state that no one wants to be in, but it must be removed owing to cultural norms, natural disasters, or a lack of adequate education. The individual who is experiencing it frequently wishes to flee. Poverty is a call for poor people to earn enough money to eat, have access to education, have adequate shelter, dress appropriately, and take steps to protect themselves from social and political violence.

It's a problem that goes unnoticed yet significantly impacts a person's social life. Poverty is an entirely avoidable problem, but there are various reasons why it has persisted in the past.

Poverty robs people of their freedom, mental health, physical well-being, and security. Everyone must strive to eradicate poverty from the country and the world, ensuring appropriate physical and mental health, full literacy, a home for all, and other necessities for living a simple life.

When a person cannot do anything according to his will, he is said to be in poverty. Many different faces alter depending on who you are, where you are, and time. It can be characterized in a variety of ways, depending on how the person feels or what they have achieved. Poverty is a circumstance that no one wants to be in, even if it is forced upon them due to a lack of experience, nature, natural disasters, or a lack of suitable education. Humans have won it, but they prefer to stay away from it. Poverty is a call for needed clothing and protection against social and political violence for the poor to earn enough money to buy food, receive an education, and find a suitable place to live.

This is an unseen problem that harms a person's social life. Even though numerous factors have contributed to its long-term persistence, poverty is a perfectly preventable problem. As a result, a person's freedom, mental and physical well-being, and sense of security are all compromised. It is critical to bring poverty and poverty from worldwide to work together to live everyday life, provide adequate physical and mental health, complete education, a home for everyone, and other essential things.


FAQs on Poverty Essay for Students in English

1. What are the Effects of Poverty?

When people are not able to afford their basic necessities. For example medications and hospital fees are impossible to afford for that means they choose crook ways of obtaining money i.e. stealing, robbery, etc.  

2. What are the Possible Ways to Remove Poverty?

Since India is a developing country, eliminating poverty here is much tougher than in other countries but still some measures can be taken and government assistance would be much helpful in this step which requires some relevant planning and policies for those who fall under the poverty line. Another major factor of poverty is illiteracy and unemployment. Therefore education is the most efficient tool to confine the poverty line in the country. 

3. What is the Poverty Line?

The Below Poverty Line (BPL) signifies the state of people who fall under poverty status. It also symbolizes an economic drawback. In addition, it is used for people who are in need of help and assistance from the government.

4. What are the causes of poverty?

Poverty has several causes, including a lack of access to essentials such as water, food, shelter, education, and healthcare. Poverty is also caused by inequities such as gender or ethnic discrimination, bad governance, conflict, exploitation, and domestic violence. These disparities not only cause a person or a society to fall into poverty, but they can also prevent people from receiving social assistance that could help them get out of it. Due to political upheaval, past or present conflict, corrupt authorities, and lousy infrastructure that restricts access to education, clean water, healthcare, and other essentials, children and communities in fragile states confront greater poverty rates.

5. What can we do to put an end to extreme poverty?

We can aid in the eradication of extreme poverty by determining what causes it in a particular community and then determining what needs to change. Because poverty manifests itself differently in different regions and is caused by different circumstances, the work to end extreme poverty differs depending on the situation. More economic resources are needed to assist people in increasing their income and better providing for themselves and their families. To ensure that poverty does not return, the work must be sustainable, regardless of the solution. As a result, the community must be involved at every stage.

6. What criteria are used to assess poverty?

Each country's government determines poverty levels by conducting home surveys of its citizens. The World Bank, for example, assists and may conduct their surveys, although data collecting is time-consuming and slow. New high-frequency surveys are being created and tested, leveraging estimations and mobile phone technologies. If you want to learn more about these topics, download the Vedantu App that has been specifically designed and curated for students by experts.

7. What is the poverty cycle?

Poverty can be a catch-22 situation. To escape poverty, a person requires access to possibilities such as education, clean water, local medical services, and financial means. Poverty creates a generational cycle if these critical factors are not there. If parents cannot afford to take their children to school, they will struggle to find work when they grow up. Even natural disasters and conflicts can exacerbate the poverty cycle by bringing more people.

8. What are the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of goals for countries worldwide to work together in a global partnership for the benefit of people, the environment, and prosperity. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to abolish extreme poverty for all people everywhere by 2030 and to reduce the proportion of people living in poverty in all forms by at least half. In September 2015, the United Nations member states accepted this objective as one of 17 to end extreme poverty.

Poverty - List of Free Essay Examples And Topic Ideas

Poverty, a state of deprivation of basic human needs and economic opportunities, is a pervasive issue across the globe. Essays could explore the systemic causes of poverty, its impact on individuals and communities, and the various strategies employed to alleviate poverty. Additionally, discussions might delve into the role of international aid, the impact of globalization, and the ethical responsibilities of affluent individuals and nations toward poverty reduction. A substantial compilation of free essay instances related to Poverty you can find at PapersOwl Website. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.

Poverty and Drug Abuse Addiction

One popular stereotype associated with drug use is that it is rampant among the poor. However, this is not entirely true since insufficient money linked with the poor cannot probably sustain drug use. The link between the two factors is multifaceted, and the connectedness of poverty is complex. Poverty entails unstable family and interpersonal associations, low-skilled jobs and low status, high arrest degrees, illegitimacy, school dropping out, deprived physical health, high mental conditions, and high mortality rates. Such factors resemble […]

Changing the Face of Poverty Summary

In Changing the Face of Poverty the author, Diana George, begins with her annual food drive at St. Vincent de Paul, and every day she receives bills and catalogs with appeals like the Navajo Health Foundation, little Brothers, and many others. In those was Habitat for Humanity. As a member of this club, I know the duties and responsibility towards this organization. George states that Habitat for Humanity is not as helpful as it seems. She says that the organization […]

Racism in Criminal Justice System

Scott Woods once said, The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people's expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn't care if you are a white person who likes black people; it's […]

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Impact of Poverty on the Society

This is a very challenging question because nearly every ""pressing problem or social issue"" has underlying factors and historical influences. So I will try to explain my understanding of these topics. There are two important lenses from which to consider this issue; first, from the individual circumstance and second, from specific community conditions. The inability of individuals to earn enough money to afford to meet their basic needs and maintain a healthy lifestyle is, in my opinion, the most pressing […]

Poverty in the United States

Poverty is a major issue in our world today, it is when people are not able to afford a minimum standard of living to survive. Poverty is the removal of financial stability to afford necessities. Bill Fay, veteran journalist defined poverty as a pervasive human condition of being unable to obtain or provide a standard level of food, water, and shelter. In 2015, a study was done and reported that 60% of people will experience at least 1 year of […]

Unemployment a Major Cause of Homelessness

Homelessness or known as extreme poverty can be interpreted as a circumstance when people have no place to stay with the result that they end up live in the street, under the bridge even at the side of the river. There are 3.5 million Americans are homeless each year. Of these, more than 1 million are children and on any given night, more than 300,000 children are homeless. They who do not have an occupation are the one that is […]

Breaking the Poverty Trap

One of the reasons the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, is because of the lack of not knowing and ignorance hindering half the world, allowing the cycle of poverty to continue. Poverty trap is as a spiraling mechanism, that forces people to remain poor binding many to no hope of escaping. The poverty trap has been an ongoing cycle within generations even those close to me, that has tremendously taken a negative toll on society and my […]

Childhood Poverty

Abstract Poverty is viewed throughout the world as a large social problem that continues to advance with time. Since 1960, poverty has continued to flourish into a problem that has affected a large majority of the population, including our children. Childhood poverty affects the psychological and biological development, as well as three main levels of social systems: micro, mezzo and macro. Even though there has been active research on poverty, generational poverty and childhood poverty, no active changes have been […]

Homelessness in the United States

Homelessness is a social problem that has long plagued the United States and surrounding Countries for centuries. It is an economic and social problem that has affected people from all walks of life, including children, families, veterans, and the elderly. Kilgore (2018). States homelessness is believed to have affected an estimated amount of 2.5-3.5 million people each year in the United States alone. Recent evidence suggests economic conditions have increased the number of people affected by homelessness in the United […]

Poverty in Developing Countries

Introduction A. (Opening Device) How many of you ever had to think or worry about your next meal? Most of us, we don't have to think about that, we don't think about where we having that meal. But in developing countries people have to think about everything they do in daily life, The goal for the day is to have meal with family and have a shelter, or to live in a house to hope for better lifestyle. To make […]

Closing the Education Gap by Attacking Poverty Among Children

Looking around the campus of an Ivy League schools, one wonders how students from such diverse backgrounds ultimately wound up at the same place. From having a mother who works in admissions, I grew up hearing that no matter where you came from, your socioeconomic status, and even sometimes your grades, all kids have the potential to attend a prestigious university. However, I find that hard to believe. With a combination of taking this class on homelessness this semester, growing […]

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Introduction The three main objectives of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed in October 2010, include the following: reforming the private insurance market, mainly for individuals and small group purchasers; expanding Medicaid to the working poor, whose maximum income is around 33 percent of the federal poverty level; and altering the way medical decisions are made in the country (Silvers, 2013). These three objectives are primarily determined by private choices rather than government regulation, with the expectation that […]

Financial Education and Poverty

The most pressing social issue that has the most impact on the ability of people to be healthy and economically self-sufficient is financial education. For an individual or family unit to become economically viable, they must be educated in the proper uses of their income. An individual can be gainfully employed and still be in danger of becoming homeless. This occurs when this individual or familial unit exceeds their income through purchases that are not needed. As we approach the […]

The Poverty Among Us

In our current society, poverty is an issue that plagues third world nations. All countries are interwoven with one another because of everyone needing each other for certain resources. When one country is in need, it interrupts a process that all countries have with one another. Poverty is an issue that everyone should pay attention to even if it does not occur where we live or does not affect us directly as much as it does other nations. Not only […]

Effect of Rural-Urban Migation on the Poverty Status of Farming Households in Ogbomoso

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background of the study Needless to say, poverty is a global problem; however, the menace of poverty is most devastating in the developing countries of the world. Food production has hardly kept pace with population size, and the quantity, as well as quality of health, has also massively deteriorated. According to the World Bank Development Report (2013), about 10.7 percent of the world's population lived below poverty line (US $1.90 a day). Poverty is one of […]

What is Poverty?

Poverty is a pervasive human condition of being unable to obtain or provide a standard level of food, water, and/or shelter (Fay, n.d.). The United States has the highest rate of poverty among wealthy countries. The official poverty line is based on what the federal government considers to be the minimum amount of money required for living at a subsistence level (Kendell, 2018). Sociologists define poverty in two ways: absolute and relative. Absolute poverty is when the household income is […]

Increasing Federal Minimum Wage

The magnitude of the impacts of federal minimum payments has been a typical topic of discussion for years. Economic policymakers and academic researchers base minimum wage discussions in the context of poverty and increasing the wages. However, critics argue that there are many adverse effects on small businesses and the general economy of the country. A rise in the nation payments will have impacts on the economy of the American states in which the increase in minimum wage law is […]

How Poverty Correlates with Non English Speaking American Families

How does poverty affect the people in the United states today? Poverty is currently affecting 16.3 percent of women, 13.8 of men, and 21 percent of all children in America. The highest poverty rate by race is found among Native Americans, which is 27.6 percent. African americans have 26.2 percent poverty and Hispanics having 23.4 percent. How do these families provide for their children and help them succeed if they can barely even pay the bills? Families all over the […]

Poverty and Crime

Poverty isn't the 'mother of crime.' However it is one noteworthy benefactor. Crime exists, since individuals need something they don't have, and are not willing to comply with the law(s) on the books to get it. What poverty does is, it decreases the things needy individuals have accessible to them, along these lines offering undeniably more things for needy individuals to want—and substantially more inspiration to them to carry out a crime to get it. Along these lines, more needy […]

Poverty in America

Poverty has been a ongoing, social issue that throughout the years has changed its meaning. Poverty is defined lacking basic necessities such as water, food, shelter, wealth, etc… About fifty years ago, war was declared on poverty by President Johnson hoping that it would end, but fast forward today, it is one of the biggest social issues America is dealing with. We don’t really know why poverty is still occurring, because the reasons seem to always be changing. The reasons […]

Poverty Life in the Industrial Age

Tenement Housing Tenement housing was cheap, unsanitary, and extremely crowded. They were placed by factories, so the air and water became very polluted and unsafe because of all the fumes and such from the factory. Most didn’t have indoor plumbing or proper ventilation which caused tons of health issues. At night the only light they had was from the streetlights so of course the only level of the housing that had light was the level that was level with the […]

Economic Inequality and Governmental Responsibility

Ever since the emergence of civilization several hundreds of years ago, social inequality has been a prevalent aspect of many societies across the world. This social structure developed as a result of several factors, amongst them political and economic status in the society. During the early stages of civilization, social and political status was closely related whereby the few powerful political leaders tended to be wealthier than the lesser politically influential majority. Although this dynamic is still prevalent in developing […]

Poverty and Homelessness in America

Poverty and Homelessness in America is a daunting subject which everyone recognizes but do not pay attention to. A homeless person is stereotypically thought to be a person who sleeps at the roadside, begging for money and influenced by drug with dirty ragged clothes and a person who is deprived of basic facilities in his or her life such as; education, electricity, proper clothes, shelter, water with a scarcity of balanced diet is termed as person living under the line […]

Poverty in Haiti: is there a Solution?

Abstract Haiti is a Latin American country that is often ignored. People do not hear much about it, except if a natural disaster such as the earthquake in 2010 happens. It was once the richest colony of the Caribbean and nowadays is known as the poorest country of the Western Hemisphere. Haiti has been facing a cycle of poverty since it became independent. Haiti’s location and deforestation have contributed to make the situation worse. More than half of the population […]

Causes of Poverty

Some causes of poverty in the United States are: unemployment, inflation, poor management of resources, government policies, debt, corruption, extreme weather, lack of control in local food, lack of access to education, mental illness ( lack of proper psychiatric care), diseases, automation, and overpopulation. Poverty is a pervasive human condition of being unable to obtain or provide a standard level of food, water and/or shelter. It exists in every country in varying degrees, and it is unlikely to disappear anytime […]

Affordable Housing Takes on Poverty

Without affordable housing there will be a continuous increase in minorities which also leads to a higher poverty rate. Poverty is the state of being extremely poor. Affordable housing helps decrease poverty in many ways than one. Affordable housing fulfills a human’s basic need for shelter as well as provides privacy for families. Those who receive affordable housing assistance and have children, benefit from better nutrition. Affordable housing would reduce poverty and should be available to those who are in […]

The Impacts of Neoliberalism in the Transition to Democracy in Chile

Compared to other developing countries in Latin America, Chile's political and economic development is distinctive. The country is one of the democratic exceptions, owing to its relatively poor and small population at the time of Spanish colonial rule. The indigenous population is also rather small, and the country has a high degree of ethnic and cultural homogeneity (Hillman and D’Agostino 2011, 67-107). However, today's regime wasn't always democratic. Between 1973 and 1990, Chile was under an authoritarian regime led by […]

Living in Poverty and being Rich

  Poverty is such a simple word, but it is so complicated at the same time. The vast majority of individuals will not fully comprehend the real implication of poverty just by reading its literal meaning from the dictionary, but by learning from their surroundings and experiencing hardship itself. Defining poverty can be being poor financially but is also defined as a comfortable way of living as well as spiritually too. What does it mean actually to be poor? Most […]

Poverty and Obesity

It is a known fact that the individual exert influences on the environment and vice versa. However, no man is an Island and as such, these influences reflect through various levels of social and interpersonal relationships. The social environment of the individual include interaction with peers, friend and family members, through such mechanism as role modeling, social support and social norms (Mary, Karen, Ramona, Karen .Annu. Rev. Public Health 2008.Creating Healthy food and Eating Environments, para 2). The physical environment […]

A Problem Child Poverty and Effects on Education

“The impact of poverty on a child’s academic achievement is significant and starts early,” – Jonah Edelman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Stand for Children (Taylor, 2017). According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2015, around 20 percent of children in the U.S. lived in poverty (Taylor, 2017). Rather than focusing all our time, attention, and resources on rewriting standards and adding higher stakes standardized tests, are we missing a larger looming issue? Studies have shown that student poverty […]

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Essay About Poverty It has existed for many years and still exists today, growing and intensifying. Today poverty remains one of the biggest. In Singer’s essay “The Solution to World poverty,” he suggests the Americans should donate all their money that is not required for necessities to help feed those that are less fortunate. This claim is not true due to the fact that Singer fails to mention how much people struggle and suffer from poverty in America alone, people worked hard for their money; therefore, they deserve to spend their hard-earned money, and how the economy depends on the Americans expenses, so if people don’t spend money on expenses, the economy will crash. Singer begins by comparing Dora, the woman who sells an orphan for a new television set. Singer then introduces Bob and how he chooses to save his expensive Bugatti from a train instead of saving a child’s life, he compares this story to Americans and their lack of donation and aids and how we “too have opportunities to save the lives of children” (2). In his essay, Singer’s aim is to target all Americans, implying that everyone should donate and help. But what he fails to mention is how even in America people also struggle and suffer from poverty. In the journal “Poverty in America: Trends and Explanations,” Hilary W. Hoynes, Marianne E. Page and Ann Huff Stevens state, “The official poverty rate is 12.3 percent, based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 estimates. That year, an estimated 39.7 million Americans lived in poverty according to the official measure. 18.5 million People reported deep poverty, which means a household income below 50 percent of their 2017 poverty threshold. These individuals represented an estimated 5.7 percent of all Americans and 46.7 percent of those in poverty.” There are so many people in America who are also in need, people that are also suffering. There are without work and without insurance, people whose homes are lose to fires, storms, and bankruptcy. The idea that individuals must help their own first before helping others is reasonable and rational. Though it could be great to help all those in need, American should aid their own first and end poverty in their own country before helping to others for there are times when it is just not possible. 

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Cause-and-effect essays aren’t just a way to help students strengthen their writing skills. They’ll also learn critical thinking, logic, and the art of persuasion. In addition, they teach students to demonstrate how one thing directly influences another. Coming up with engaging cause-and-effect essay topics can be challenging, but we have you covered. This list of ideas includes a variety of topics that range from social and cultural movements to mental health and the environment.

Science and Environment Cause & Effect Essay Topics

  • Describe the effect of urbanization on the environment.
  • What is the impact of air pollution on health?
  • What are the causes and consequences of plastics on marine life?
  • What is the impact of rising sea temperatures on fish and marine life?
  • Describe the impact of human behavior on global warming.

Describe the impact of human behavior on global warming. Cause and effect essay

  • What is the effect of social media on environmentalism?
  • What causes volcanic eruptions?
  • What causes trees to die?
  • What are the effects of gravity?
  • Why are plants green?
  • Why do trees shed their leaves?
  • What causes a species to become endangered?
  • What are some of the causes of animals losing their habitats?
  • Describe the effect of overpopulation on the environment.
  • What are the effects of famine on human population?
  • What are the causes and effects of Antarctica floods?
  • What are the effects of pollution on the ocean?
  • What effect do cars have on the environment?
  • Why is it important to manage wildfires?
  • What has been the impact of DNA on crime scene processing?

What has been the impact of DNA on crime scene processing?

  • What are the impacts of deforestation in Brazil?
  • What are the effects of GMO foods on human health?
  • What are the impacts of immunizations on human health?

Technology and Social Media Cause & Effect Essay Topics

  • What are the effects of social media on adolescent development?
  • How does technology affect productivity?
  • What are the effects of video games on childhood development?
  • How do cell phones affect human relationships?
  • What are some reasons a teacher might ban cell phones from class?

What are some reasons a teacher might ban cell phones from class? Cause and effect essay

  • What effects do cell phones have on sleep?
  • What effects did the invention of the Internet have on technology?
  • What were the origins of cyberbullying?
  • What are the effects of tablet use on small children?
  • How has online dating changed relationships?
  • What makes some people less likely to use social media?
  • What are the effects of social media on privacy?
  • How does the rise of TikTok affect Facebook and Instagram?
  • In what ways could social media lead to extremism?
  • What is the impact of social media on the increasing popularity of plastic surgery and other enhancements?

What is the impact of social media on the increasing popularity of plastic surgery and other enhancements?

  • What are some of the benefits of owning a smartphone and what are some of the drawbacks?
  • What has been the impact of online shopping on brick-and-mortar stores?
  • What has been the impact of smartphones on marriages and relationships?
  • What are the causes and effects of texting while driving?
  • What has the rise of “influencers” meant for Hollywood?
  • In what ways have photo filters influenced young people’s self-esteem?

Culture and Social Issues Cause & Effect Essay Topics

  • What are some of the reasons for substance abuse in young people?
  • What are some of the effects of bullying?
  • How does economic status affect the quality of health care?
  • What are some of the causes of homelessness?
  • Explain the effects of ignorance on discrimination.
  • What are the impacts of death sentences on social justice?

What are the impacts of death sentences on social justice? Cause and effect essay

  • How does financial success affect societal privilege?
  • What effects does growing up poor have on children?
  • In what ways does religion influence society?
  • What are the effects of immigration on a host country?
  • What are the effects of ageism on job opportunities?
  • What is the impact of LGBTQ+ representation in TV and movies?
  • What are the effects of school shootings on politics?
  • How do school uniforms affect students?
  • What are the impacts of high student debt?
  • What are the impacts of body shaming on people?
  • What were the lasting impacts of the AIDS epidemic on society?

What were the lasting impacts of the AIDS epidemic on society? cause and effect essay

  • What impact does banning abortion have in the United States?
  • What has been the impact of marriage equality in the United States?
  • What are the causes and effects of noise pollution?
  • What are the causes and effects of inflation on the economy?
  • What are the effects of TV shows on our behavior?

Sports Cause & Effect Essay Topics

  • Examine the effects of exercise on mental health.
  • What led to baseball being an iconic American sport?
  • What drives people to participate in extreme sports?
  • In what ways did globalization affect modern sports?
  • What were the effects of doping on amateur and professional sports?
  • Select a sport and write about the historical factors that led to the popularization of that sport.

poverty essay causes

  • Describe the ways in which youth sports influence a child’s development.
  • What were the driving forces behind the first Olympics?
  • How can team sports help develop social skills?
  • How have e-sports changed the sporting landscape?
  • In what ways do race biases influence sports?

In what ways do race biases influence sports.

  • What are the effects of regular workouts on immunity?
  • How does participating in sports affect leadership skills?
  • In what ways can sports lead to character development?
  • What effect does famous athletes’ social commentary have on their fans?

History Cause & Effect Essay Topics

  • What are the effects of the war in Syria on the United States?
  • What have been the lasting effects of the Civil Rights Movement?
  • What were the causes and effects of the attack on Pearl Harbor?
  • What led up to the Berlin Wall being torn down and what effects did that have?

What led up to the Berlin Wall being torn down and what effects did that have? Cause and effect essay

  • What lasting impact did 9/11 have on modern American society?
  • What were the causes of the Salem Witch Trials?
  • What was the cultural impact of the Spanish-American War?
  • How has globalization led to modern-day slavery?
  • What events led to the fall of the Roman Empire?
  • What were the impacts of the Great Depression on women’s employment?
  • How did cartels come into existence? What effect have they had on the United States and Mexico?
  • What were the causes and effects of the Women’s Liberation Movement?
  • Give an example of colonialism in history and name the resulting impact to the affected society.

Give an example of colonialism in history and name the resulting impact to the affected society.

  • What led to the rise of ISIS and what has the impact been on international security?
  • What factors led to the Titanic’s sinking?
  • What were the causes and effects of the Vietnam War?
  • Choose an American president. What led him to become president and what were the effects of his presidency?

Mental Health Cause & Effect Essay Topics

  • How can stress affect the immune system?
  • How does social anxiety affect young people?
  • How can high academic expectations lead to depression?
  • What are the effects of divorce on young people?
  • How does service in the armed forces lead to post-traumatic stress disorder?

How does service in the armed forces lead to post-traumatic stress disorder? Cause and effect essay topic

  • What are the effects of mindfulness on mental health?
  • Describe the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted mental health.
  • How does childhood trauma impact childhood development?
  • What impact does witnessing violence have on mental health?
  • What is behind increasingly high levels of anxiety in modern American society?

What is behind increasingly high levels of anxiety in modern American society? cause and effect essay topic

  • What are the causes and effects of panic attacks?
  • What are the causes and consequences of high stress in the workplace?
  • What are some of the causes of insomnia and in what ways does it affect mental health?
  • What is the impact of staying home for an extended period of time?

Current Events Cause & Effect Essay Topics

  • Choose a local public education campaign. What are the effects of that campaign?
  • What are the causes and effects of migration?
  • What are the causes and effects of terrorist attacks?

What are the causes and effects of terrorist attacks?

  • What are the effects of legalizing genetic engineering research?
  • How do low voting rates impact elections and government?
  • What is the effect of raising the minimum wage?
  • What are the effects of globalization on society?
  • How does gerrymandering affect election outcomes?
  • What are the causes and effects of police brutality?
  • What are the causes and effects of political polarization?

What are the causes and effects of political polarization?

  • What are the causes and effects of fake news?
  • What are the effects of global war on citizens?
  • What is the effect of international aid on poverty or health?
  • Why do some countries have nuclear weapons, and what does this mean for other countries?

Education Cause & Effect Essay Topics

  • What are the effects of teacher quality on student success?
  • What are the causes and effects of student loan debt?
  • What are the causes and effects of low graduation rates?

What are the causes and effects of low graduation rates?

  • What are the effects of assigning homework?
  • What are the causes and effects of school funding disparities?
  • What are the causes and effects of the digital divide in education?
  • What is the effect of AI on education?
  • What are the causes and effects of student burnout?
  • Should students be required to study a foreign language in school, and what are the effects of learning a foreign language?

Should students be required to study a foreign language in school, and what are the effects of learning a foreign language?

  • What effect has the COVID pandemic had on education?
  • What are the effects of same-sex classrooms or schools?

What are your best cause-and-effect essay topics for students? Come exchange ideas in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, check out our list of interesting persuasive essay topics for kids and teens..

Coming up with cause and effect essay topics can be challenging, but we have you covered. Check out our list with a variety of topics.

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poverty essay causes

Why Am I Poor? Understanding and Breaking the Cycle

John Rampton

John Rampton

  • Posted on January 5th, 2024

52-Week Money Challenge

Millions of people around the world ask themselves, “Why am I poor?”. In fact, poverty affects 9.2% of the world’s population , making it one of the most pressing issues of our time. As of 2022, 12.4% of Americans lived in poverty, up from 11.2% in 2021 This marks the first increase in SPM poverty rates since 2010.

This is an unfortunate question that is laced with shame, frustration, and a desperate longing for more. It also deserves a thoughtful response, not a quick answer. After all, the cause of poverty is rarely a simple one. Rather, it is an intricate tapestry woven from individual choices, systemic realities, and historical threads.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Roots of Poverty

To start unraveling this web, we must acknowledge that your question is valid. Poverty is a real struggle, and it should not be dismissed or minimized.

Now let’s look at the potential factors contributing to your financial situation.

Systemic inequities.

In most cases, poverty is not caused by a personal failure. Many times, it is rooted in systemic inequalities that disadvantage certain groups based on their racial, economic, and social backgrounds. There are various ways in which these inequalities manifest, from unequal hiring practices to unequal access to quality education and healthcare.

As an example, Black and Latinx individuals are less likely to be approved for loans in the U.S. , regardless of their creditworthiness.

Limited opportunities.

Children growing up in poverty often have limited access to quality education, skills training, and professional networks. In turn, this can limit job opportunities and perpetuate poverty due to a lack of marketable skills.

Moreover, geographical location can have a significant impact. Poor infrastructure and limited job opportunities may make it difficult for individuals to escape poverty.

Generational poverty.

Often, poverty is a generational issue . A lack of quality education, health care, and nutritious food can prevent children from developing skills and knowledge that will help them break free.

A lack of parental wealth also limits investments, entrepreneurship, or higher education opportunities.

Predatory practices.

Individuals can be trapped in a cycle of debt by payday loans, high-interest credit cards, and predatory leasing contracts.

As an example, credit cards can charge borrowers rates from 28 to 36%, but payday loans can charge rates as high as 398% . Furthermore, many borrowers are unable to repay the loan within the two-week repayment period. In the end, they are sunk deeper and deeper into debt by borrowing or paying another installment of fees.

Poor financial decisions.

In some cases, it is necessary to look in the mirror to understand why we are poor. We can lose a lot of money if we make bad financial decisions.

Let’s say you’re addicted to credit cards and live beyond your means. If you cannot afford your bills and credit card payments, you can quickly fall into poverty.

According to a Clever Real Estate survey of 1,000 U.S. credit card users, approximately 3 in 5 Americans (61%) are suffering from credit card debt . The average credit card debt is $5,875. Suffice it to say, that you may fall into this group.

However, if you have made poor financial decisions that have caused financial hardship for yourself, it’s not the time to criticize yourself. Instead, think about what you can do to change your finanical situation

Unfortunate tragedy.

Not to be a Fear Mongor. But, unpredictability is a part of life, and it can strike at any time — despite how prepared you are. There are many types of emergencies that can leave families destitute, including medical emergencies, accidents, fires, natural disasters, and identity theft .

It is common for medical expenses to cause financial trouble and even bankruptcy, as can the destruction of your home or an injury that prevents you from working. Approximately 20% of Americans report having medical debt , and medical debt accounts for 62% of bankruptcies.

Ultimately, getting out of poverty becomes nearly impossible when you are trapped in a cycle of poverty caused by the crisis.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

To escape poverty, you must be determined, self-aware, and committed to continuous improvement. The following steps can help you get started.

Shifting the mindset.

Every journey begins with taking the first step, and in this case, shifting your mindset is the first step.

It may not be obvious to many of us. But, our relationship with money is often influenced by our beliefs, experiences, and societal conditioning. Depending on how we view it, it may be viewed as a scarce resource, a source of stress, or even a measure of our worth.

What if we were to rewrite the narrative? Imagine if we could cultivate a healthy money mindset , one that empowers us to make smart choices, achieve our financial goals, and experience abundant living.

That may seem impossible. However, you can change your money mindset by following these steps.

It’s time to shift the paradigm.

What is the first step to transforming your money mindset? Acknowledging your limiting beliefs. And, to start, ask yourself the following:

  • What are the negative thoughts you have about money?
  • Are you stuck in a scarcity mindset ?
  • Do you think you’ll never have enough money?
  • Are you afraid to take risks?
  • Have you ever felt guilty about spending money?

Often passed down from generation to generation or subconsciously incorporated into our minds, these narratives can sabotage our financial lives. It is possible, however, to challenge these limiting beliefs once you have identified them.

Embracing abundance.

Rather than focusing on scarcity, let’s emphasize abundance.

The idea here is not that everyone is going to become wealthy instantly, but rather that there are enough resources and opportunities available for everyone. The key is to recognize your own potential and your value.

To put it differently, instead of focusing on what you lack, look at what you have. Even if you only possess a small savings account or a steady income, express gratitude for what you have. Also, consider affirmations like “I am worthy of abundance.”

Understanding your financial situation.

Changing your money mindset is a good start, but you must also take action. In particular, you need to assess your current financial situation . It means looking at your income, expenses, and debt honestly.

Understanding where your money is going will help you make informed decisions about saving, investing, and reaching your financial goals.

For a better understanding of your financial situation, follow these five steps:

Gather your financial documents.

Gather your bank statements, credit card statements, pay stubs, and any other documents that reflect your income and expenses. You will be able to get a complete picture of your financial situation by doing this.

Track your income and expenses.

In order to keep track of your income and expenses, you can use a variety of methods. If you want to budget, you can use an app, a spreadsheet, or even just a notebook. What matters is that you choose a method that works for you and stick to it. If you keep track of your spending, you might be surprised at what you find.

Calculate your net worth.

Essentially, your net worth is the difference between what you own and what you owe. Count all of your assets, including your car, your home, and your investments, to calculate your net worth. Next, list all your liabilities, such as credit card debt and student loans.

Taking the value of your assets and subtracting the value of your liabilities will give you your net worth.

Identify your financial goals.

Do you have a specific goal in mind for your money? Would you like to save for a down payment on a house? Getting out of debt ? Retire early ?

Once you have identified your goals, you can begin developing a plan to achieve them.

Create a budget.

Budgets serve as a roadmap for your finances. In addition to housing, food, transportation, and entertainment, it helps you allocate your income to different categories. Budgeting methods vary , so choose one that works for you and your lifestyle.

When you understand your financial situation, you will be able to make informed financial decisions. Additionally, you can create a budget and plan to achieve your financial goals.

Don’t forget that taking control of your finances is a journey, not an endpoint. Despite bumps along the way, you will eventually reach your financial goals if you remain committed.

Give priority to your needs.

In times of limited resources, prioritization is essential. Ensure that basic needs are met first:

  • Housing. Make sure your housing is safe and affordable. If necessary, look into shared housing or government assistance programs. To find local social services and referrals for emergency housing, dial 211 in most areas of the U.S.
  • Food. Ensure that nutritious meals are available. Organize your meals, use budget-friendly recipes, and seek food assistance if necessary, such as SNAP benefits .
  • Healthcare. Get essential medical checkups and preventive care as soon as possible. Whenever possible, look for free or low-cost healthcare options by visiting HealthCare.gov .

For progress to continue, these fundamental needs must be addressed.

Unlocking opportunities through education.

Economic mobility begins with education, the key to better jobs, higher incomes, and a more stable future. Make education a priority, whether formal or informal.

Get the skills and knowledge you need for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs by enrolling in vocational training programs, community colleges, and online courses. Don’t be deterred by the cost. Find out what scholarships, grants , and financial aid are available to you.

It is important to remember that knowledge is a lifelong investment. Moreover, one that will lead you toward financial stability.

It’s not just about degrees, but about building skills.

While formal education is important, practical skills are equally important. Take time to learn how to fix things around your home, cook healthy meals on a budget, manage your finances effectively, or gain a better understanding of technology.

By developing these skills, you can open doors to freelance gigs, side hustles, and even starting your own business.

Become financially literate.

When you don’t know enough about money, you’re more vulnerable to getting taken advantage of — especially since most schools don’t provide financial literacy training. As such, that means you need to educate yourself.

To begin with, make sure you understand these points:

  • Understanding the basics of finance.
  • What credit is, how it works, and how to responsibly build it.
  • Choosing a financial product or institution should be based on your needs.
  • The rights you have when it comes to banking and financial products.

For a basic understanding of financial literacy, you might want to take a look at our blog . You can also read personal finance books or listen to podcasts.

Alternatively, you can visit the Financial Health Network . It’s a nonprofit that serves unbanked and underbanked people.

Make sure you are aware of your rights as well. Take advantage of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) resources . To ensure that banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly, this organization exists.

Eventually, you can use this knowledge to escape poverty.

Boosting your income.

In addition to managing expenses effectively, increasing your income will lead to greater financial stability. Here are some options to consider.

Level up your current gig.

  • Negotiate your salary. If you want to renegotiate your salary, do your research, highlight your achievements, and present your case confidently. Keep in mind that the worst they can say is no. Don’t forget, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
  • Upskilling. Learn new skills through online courses, workshops, or industry certifications. As you become a more valuable asset in your field, you can receive promotions, bonuses, and even be considered for headhunting.
  • Consider side hustles. Corporate ladders don’t appeal to you? Consider a side hustle that complements your skillset and sparks your joy. With the right dedication, freelancing, consulting, or even launching your own Etsy shop can be surprisingly lucrative.

Diversify your income streams.

  • Create your own content. Do you have a knack for writing, photography, or design? E-books, online courses, and even stock photos can be created and sold. By creating content on platforms such as Fiverr or Upwork, you can monetize your expertise.
  • Earn a passive income. A passive income comes from investments, properties, or side hustles that do not require a lot of time and effort. Being in poverty may make this difficult. So, start by downloading these passive income apps .
  • Sharing is caring. You may be able to rent out unused space on Airbnb or Turo if possible. However, you can also rent out anything from vehicles to parking spaces to baby equipment.

The key to boosting your income isn’t just working harder, but also working smarter. If you increase your income even a little bit, it will have a significant impact on your long-term financial goals.

Taking the plunge out of poverty as a community.

It is rare for poverty to be an individual struggle. As such, embrace community. There are lots of resources and support systems you can use:

  • Government assistance programs. Financial assistance is provided by many government programs for food, housing, utility costs, healthcare, and education. Be sure to research eligibility requirements and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
  • Non-profit organizations. The non-profit sector, like United Way , often provides financial counseling, skills training, and other resources to help people overcome poverty.
  • Community support. Get in touch with supportive individuals who can offer assistance, guidance, and encouragement.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Seeking support can significantly accelerate your progress, and there’s no shame in doing so.

Take care of yourself.

It can be emotionally and mentally draining to escape poverty. That’s why you need to prioritize self-care .

Particularly, try to manage stress in a healthy way, like by exercising, meditating, or spending time outdoors. In addition, make sure you have a strong support system, including people who can listen to you and offer encouragement.

It is not selfish or a luxury to take care of yourself. For sustained progress, it is essential.

Empowering the Journey

The journey of breaking free from poverty is both challenging and rewarding. You can further empower your efforts by following these tips:

  • Set realistic goals. Make small steps, celebrate your milestones, and don’t give up when you encounter setbacks. Progress is more important than perfection.
  • Seek mentorship. Learn from individuals who have navigated poverty successfully.
  • Embrace continuous learning. It is never too late to learn new skills or gain new knowledge. In an ever-evolving world, you need to remain adaptable and flexible.
  • Build a support system. Put yourself in the company of positive, encouraging people who believe in your abilities.
  • Ditch the comparison game. Every person’s financial journey is unique, so celebrate your wins no matter how big or small they may be. It’s important to be consistent. Don’t give up, keep learning, and keep your eyes on the prize.
  • Celebrate your successes. No matter how small your accomplishments are, acknowledge them. Be proud of the progress you have made and the hard work you have put in.

It takes a lot of effort to break free from poverty. The road will be bumpy, there will be detours, and there will be doubts. You can rewrite your narrative by being resilient, resourceful, and having a supportive network.

Remember, as an individual, you have the power, the potential, and the right to claim your own version of success.

What is poverty?

It is possible to define poverty in different ways. However, it generally refers to living without the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter, healthcare, and education.

What factors contribute to poverty?

  • Structural factors. Individuals and families can be trapped in poverty by systemic issues like discrimination, limited career opportunities, and inadequate social safety nets.
  • Individual circumstances. An unforeseen life event such as illness, a family emergency, a job loss, or mental health challenges can lead to financial instability.
  • Financial literacy. The inability to budget, save, and manage debt can make it difficult for people to overcome financial hardships.

Is “the cycle of poverty” real?

It is true that poverty can be intergenerational . It is difficult for children raised in poverty to succeed in education, healthcare, and careers.

This cycle, however, is not inevitable. It is possible to break the cycle of poverty and create upward mobility by combining individual effort with supportive policies and access to resources.

What are the biggest challenges in breaking the cycle of poverty?

  • Limited access to resources. For individuals living in poverty, affordable housing, quality education, and healthcare can be out of reach.
  • Discrimination. Employment, education, and housing can all be restricted by racial, gender, and other forms of discrimination. This can exacerbate inequalities already present.
  • Mental health barriers. People suffering from poverty may be unable to focus on their education, work, or seeking assistance due to stress, anxiety, and depression.

What can I do to break the cycle of poverty in my own life?

  • Invest in education. Develop a skill or education that will lead to a well-paying job. Find out about scholarships, grants, and financial assistance programs.
  • Develop financial literacy. You can manage your finances more effectively by learning how to budget, save, and invest. If necessary, seek financial counseling.
  • Build a strong support network. You need people who support your goals and understand your challenges to ensure your success.
  • Advocate for systemic change. Advocate and Support policies that address the root causes of poverty. Fair wages, affordable housing, and accessible healthcare are a few examples.
  • break cycle of poverty financial growth scarcity mindset

poverty essay causes

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poverty essay causes

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Child food poverty, addressing nutrition deprivation in early childhood..

Burkina Faso. A woman feeds a child at a malnutrition screening session.

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Across the world, millions of parents and families are struggling to provide nutritious and diverse foods that young children need to reach their full potential. Growing inequities, conflict, and climate crises, combined with rising food prices, the overabundance of unhealthy foods, harmful food marketing strategies and poor child feeding practices, are condemning millions of children to child food poverty.

UNICEF defines child food poverty as children’s inability to access and consume a nutritious and diverse diet in early childhood.

Child food poverty harms all children, but it is particularly damaging in early childhood when insufficient dietary intake of essential nutrients can cause the greatest harm to child survival, physical growth, and cognitive development, trapping children and their families in a cycle of poverty and deprivation.

‘Child Food Poverty: Nutrition deprivation in early childhood’ examines the status, trends, inequities and drivers of child food poverty in early childhood.

Key findings include:

  • Globally, one in four children are living in severe child food poverty in early childhood, amounting to 181 million children under 5 years of age.
  • Progress towards ending severe child food poverty is slow, but some regions and countries are proving that progress is possible and is happening.
  • Severe child food poverty is experienced by children belonging to poor and non-poor households, indicating that household income is not the only driver of severe child food poverty.
  • Children living in severe child food poverty are missing out on many nutrient-rich foods, while unhealthy foods are becoming entrenched in the diets of these children.
  • The global food and nutrition crisis and localized conflicts and climatic shocks are intensifying severe child food poverty, especially in fragile countries.
  • Severe child food poverty is driving child undernutrition: the prevalence of severe child food poverty is three times higher in countries with a high prevalence of child stunting.

Call to action: Ending severe child food poverty

The scale of severe child food poverty, the slow progress over the past decade, and the impacts of severe child food poverty on child survival, growth and development demand a step change in commitment, actions and accountability.  To address child malnutrition governments and partners must invest in actions to improve children’s access to diverse and nutritious diets and end severe child food poverty.

UNICEF calls on national governments, development and humanitarian partners, donors, civil society and media, academic and research organizations to:

  • Elevate child food poverty reduction as a requirement for achieving global and national nutrition and development goals and a metric of success in meeting children’s right to food and nutrition; and commit resources to end child food poverty.
  • Transform food systems by ensuring food environments make nutritious, diverse and healthy foods the most accessible, affordable and desirable option for feeding young children, and the food and beverage industry complies with policies to protect children from unhealthy foods and beverages.
  • Leverage health systems to deliver essential nutrition services, including counselling and support on child feeding, to prevent and treat child malnutrition, prioritizing the most vulnerable children.
  • Activate social protection systems to address income poverty in ways that are responsive to the food and nutrition needs of the most vulnerable children and their families, including social transfers to protect children at highest risk of child food poverty.
  • Strengthen data systems to assess the prevalence and severity of child food poverty; detect increases in child food poverty early, including in fragile and humanitarian contexts; and track national and global progress in reducing severe child food poverty.

‘Child Food Poverty: Nutrition deprivation in early childhood’ examines the status, trends, inequities and drivers of child food poverty in early childhood. The report also outlines an agenda for tackling the problem, including actions to transform food systems, leverage health systems, and activate social protection systems in ways that put children’s right to food and nutrition in early childhood at the centre.

Child food poverty report cover

Files available for download

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Nearly 400 million young children worldwide regularly experience violent discipline at home – UNICEF

1 in 4 children globally live in severe child food poverty due to inequity, conflict, and climate crises – UNICEF

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Causes and Effects of Climate Change

Fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – are by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions.

As greenhouse gas emissions blanket the Earth, they trap the sun’s heat. This leads to global warming and climate change. The world is now warming faster than at any point in recorded history. Warmer temperatures over time are changing weather patterns and disrupting the usual balance of nature. This poses many risks to human beings and all other forms of life on Earth.

Industry and Transport

Causes of Climate Change

Generating power

Generating electricity and heat by burning fossil fuels causes a large chunk of global emissions. Most electricity is still generated by burning coal, oil, or gas, which produces carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide – powerful greenhouse gases that blanket the Earth and trap the sun’s heat. Globally, a bit more than a quarter of electricity comes from wind, solar and other renewable sources which, as opposed to fossil fuels, emit little to no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the air.

Manufacturing goods

Manufacturing and industry produce emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels to produce energy for making things like cement, iron, steel, electronics, plastics, clothes, and other goods. Mining and other industrial processes also release gases, as does the construction industry. Machines used in the manufacturing process often run on coal, oil, or gas; and some materials, like plastics, are made from chemicals sourced from fossil fuels. The manufacturing industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Cutting down forests

Cutting down forests to create farms or pastures, or for other reasons, causes emissions, since trees, when they are cut, release the carbon they have been storing. Each year approximately 12 million hectares of forest are destroyed. Since forests absorb carbon dioxide, destroying them also limits nature’s ability to keep emissions out of the atmosphere. Deforestation, together with agriculture and other land use changes, is responsible for roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Using transportation

Most cars, trucks, ships, and planes run on fossil fuels. That makes transportation a major contributor of greenhouse gases, especially carbon-dioxide emissions. Road vehicles account for the largest part, due to the combustion of petroleum-based products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines. But emissions from ships and planes continue to grow. Transport accounts for nearly one quarter of global energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions. And trends point to a significant increase in energy use for transport over the coming years.

Producing food

Producing food causes emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases in various ways, including through deforestation and clearing of land for agriculture and grazing, digestion by cows and sheep, the production and use of fertilizers and manure for growing crops, and the use of energy to run farm equipment or fishing boats, usually with fossil fuels. All this makes food production a major contributor to climate change. And greenhouse gas emissions also come from packaging and distributing food.

Powering buildings

Globally, residential and commercial buildings consume over half of all electricity. As they continue to draw on coal, oil, and natural gas for heating and cooling, they emit significant quantities of greenhouse gas emissions. Growing energy demand for heating and cooling, with rising air-conditioner ownership, as well as increased electricity consumption for lighting, appliances, and connected devices, has contributed to a rise in energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions from buildings in recent years.

Consuming too much

Your home and use of power, how you move around, what you eat and how much you throw away all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. So does the consumption of goods such as clothing, electronics, and plastics. A large chunk of global greenhouse gas emissions are linked to private households. Our lifestyles have a profound impact on our planet. The wealthiest bear the greatest responsibility: the richest 1 per cent of the global population combined account for more greenhouse gas emissions than the poorest 50 per cent.

Based on various UN sources

Industry and Transport

Effects of Climate Change

Hotter temperatures

As greenhouse gas concentrations rise, so does the global surface temperature. The last decade, 2011-2020, is the warmest on record. Since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one. Nearly all land areas are seeing more hot days and heat waves. Higher temperatures increase heat-related illnesses and make working outdoors more difficult. Wildfires start more easily and spread more rapidly when conditions are hotter. Temperatures in the Arctic have warmed at least twice as fast as the global average.

More severe storms

Destructive storms have become more intense and more frequent in many regions. As temperatures rise, more moisture evaporates, which exacerbates extreme rainfall and flooding, causing more destructive storms. The frequency and extent of tropical storms is also affected by the warming ocean. Cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons feed on warm waters at the ocean surface. Such storms often destroy homes and communities, causing deaths and huge economic losses.

Increased drought

Climate change is changing water availability, making it scarcer in more regions. Global warming exacerbates water shortages in already water-stressed regions and is leading to an increased risk of agricultural droughts affecting crops, and ecological droughts increasing the vulnerability of ecosystems. Droughts can also stir destructive sand and dust storms that can move billions of tons of sand across continents. Deserts are expanding, reducing land for growing food. Many people now face the threat of not having enough water on a regular basis.

A warming, rising ocean

The ocean soaks up most of the heat from global warming. The rate at which the ocean is warming strongly increased over the past two decades, across all depths of the ocean. As the ocean warms, its volume increases since water expands as it gets warmer. Melting ice sheets also cause sea levels to rise, threatening coastal and island communities. In addition, the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide, keeping it from the atmosphere. But more carbon dioxide makes the ocean more acidic, which endangers marine life and coral reefs.

Loss of species

Climate change poses risks to the survival of species on land and in the ocean. These risks increase as temperatures climb. Exacerbated by climate change, the world is losing species at a rate 1,000 times greater than at any other time in recorded human history. One million species are at risk of becoming extinct within the next few decades. Forest fires, extreme weather, and invasive pests and diseases are among many threats related to climate change. Some species will be able to relocate and survive, but others will not.

Not enough food

Changes in the climate and increases in extreme weather events are among the reasons behind a global rise in hunger and poor nutrition. Fisheries, crops, and livestock may be destroyed or become less productive. With the ocean becoming more acidic, marine resources that feed billions of people are at risk. Changes in snow and ice cover in many Arctic regions have disrupted food supplies from herding, hunting, and fishing. Heat stress can diminish water and grasslands for grazing, causing declining crop yields and affecting livestock.

More health risks

Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. Climate impacts are already harming health, through air pollution, disease, extreme weather events, forced displacement, pressures on mental health, and increased hunger and poor nutrition in places where people cannot grow or find sufficient food. Every year, environmental factors take the lives of around 13 million people. Changing weather patterns are expanding diseases, and extreme weather events increase deaths and make it difficult for health care systems to keep up.

Poverty and displacement

Climate change increases the factors that put and keep people in poverty. Floods may sweep away urban slums, destroying homes and livelihoods. Heat can make it difficult to work in outdoor jobs. Water scarcity may affect crops. Over the past decade (2010–2019), weather-related events displaced an estimated 23.1 million people on average each year, leaving many more vulnerable to poverty. Most refugees come from countries that are most vulnerable and least ready to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

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