When an individual or group lacks the means and necessities for a minimal quality of life, that situation is referred to as poverty. It is when one’s level of employment-based earnings is too low that they cannot meet their fundamental requirements. Poverty comprises two parts: a measure of the needs and the resources available to help satisfy those needs. Poverty is a problem that affects both individuals and society as a whole. Making ends meet might be difficult for a person or a family, which can result in a variety of problems, both mentally and physically. High levels of poverty in society can stifle economic development and are linked to issues such as unemployment, crime, urban degradation, illiteracy, and poor health.
Poverty is measured in two ways: absolute and relative poverty. Absolute poverty describes a situation in which a person lacks the resources to purchase necessities for survival, while relative poverty is the difference between economic and lifestyle levels within the same environment. Absolute poverty is a state that severely deprives people of their basic requirements, such as food, clean water to drink, sanitary facilities, health care, housing, and education. It is influenced by both income and service access. One can quickly recognize that poverty is largely regarded as one of the most significant issues facing humanity. However, since human life has undergone a shift from empathetic to disinterested, general society places less weight on this crucial problem.
The Causes of Poverty
Poverty is among the most common societal issues facing the world today, affecting both industrialized and developing nations. Rarely is there a single source of poverty, some individuals lack sufficient money due to a number of reasons, including growing living expenses, low salaries, and unemployment. The majority of the research on the causes of poverty appears to fall roughly into two categories. While some academics prefer an individual theory explanation for poverty, others emphasize structural theory as a cause of poverty.
The structural cause theory
The structural theory identifies systemic causes of poverty, like gender and racial disparities that permeate organizations and industries, and the profit incentive, these results in low salaries and benefits that make it difficult for certain households to earn a decent living and inadequate investments in social insurance, education, and health care. According to proponents of this idea, poverty is caused by a social, economic, and political system that gives people few chances and means to obtain income (Sarlo 11). The refusal to recognize and accept the inherent distinctions among people leads to an inequitable situation and encourages the spread of poverty.
The majority of poverty in global markets, according to structural theory, can be traced back to racial discrimination, patriarchy, capitalism, and white privilege. Regardless of a person’s effort, such as hard work, talents, and competencies, capitalism fosters factors that lead to poverty. For instance, the design of certain economies, like the economy of the U.S., guarantees that thousands of people continue to live in poverty (Brady 5). Numerous academic works argue that those economic structures are designed in such a way that the poor, regardless of their level of competence, continue to lag behind.
The Individual Cause Theory
According to this concept of poverty, each person is accountable for their level of poverty. Individual attitudes, human resources, and welfare involvement are among the personal characteristics that contribute to or exacerbate poverty. This philosophy is based on American ideals and confidence in the free market, which is viewed as a process that creates opportunity for everyone (Addae-Korankye 58). Working hard and individual responsibility are highly valued in the individualistic philosophy in order to meet basic necessities like food, shelter, and medical care.
All views that largely attribute the phenomenon of poverty to an individual’s flaws or to their innate or learned limitations are considered individualistic concepts of poverty. According to this line of reasoning, poverty results from a person’s inability to acquire the skills necessary to move up in social class. The biogenic concept, which contends that an individual’s IQ determines their level of financial success, and the cultural concept, which attributes poverty to a lack of desire resulting from unfavorable cultural beliefs, are more specialized views that fall under this ideology. The human resources idea is yet another individualistic concept. It indicates that a person’s choice to spend money on higher education or training and the distribution of their potential earnings are related.
Inequality is a major contributor to poverty, so poverty must be eliminated through equity. Individuals that lack proper representation within their communities are further disadvantaged with regards to resources and opportunities due to institutional constraints. Everyone must be included in finding a solution if society, or even a nation, is to reduce poverty. Gender disparity is among the most important inequities that need to be addressed. “Women’s unpaid labor adds up to $10 trillion per year—13% of the global GDP.” (Khan 4). According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, women own less than 20% of agricultural land in parts of Africa and Asia, yet makeup 60% of the agricultural workforce (Khan 6). For employed ladies and their families, eliminating the present gender wage disparity would help decrease poverty.
By increasing education access to people, especially children, UNESCO estimates that if all children in low–come ranked nations were to have basic education like reading skills, it would help people escape poverty. The percentage of adults who did not complete their secondary education might reduce poverty around the world by more than half. Education increases knowledge and capacities, addresses some inequalities that result from discrimination and reduces susceptibility and risk (Gadsden 23). Bringing down education barriers, establishing direct exposure in remote regions, assisting instructors in their efforts to provide high-quality instruction, and ensuring that learning is accessible to children residing in unstable environments are among the top priorities for ensuring that education is genuinely for all. Ending wars and conflicts is another way of ending poverty. When there is no war, funds set aside to meet the war’s costs can be repurposed to provide public services. Additionally, it lessens the dangers that the most disadvantaged communities must confront and makes sure that the objectives of inclusivity can be upheld.
In conclusion, most people all over the world agree that one of the biggest problems facing humanity is poverty. It affects both individuals everywhere and the community at large. Over the years, scholars have tried to pinpoint the cause of poverty and managed to come up with two theories: the structural cause theory and the individual cause theory. There are suggestions on how to deal with the issue of poverty, like increasing education access for people, especially children, and ending wars and conflicts.
Addae-Korankye, A. L. E. X. “Theories of Poverty: A critical review.” Journal of Poverty, Investment and Development 48 (2019): 55-62.
Brady, David. “Theories of the Causes of Poverty.” Annual Review of Sociology 45 (2019): 155-175.
Gadsden, Vivian L. “Literacy and Poverty: Intergenerational Issues within African American Families.” Children of poverty. Routledge, 2021. 85-124.
Khan, Naushad, et al. “Analysis of Poverty of Different Countries of the World.” Available at SSRN 3701329 (2020).
Sarlo, Christopher A. “The causes of Poverty.” Fraser Institute, 2019.