Living in Poverty

Term Paper, 2017

16 Pages, Grade: 2


Table of Contents


Factors Contributing to the Continuation of Poverty

Consequences of Poverty Individual Contributing to the Cycle of Poverty

Effects of Poverty on Society

Government’s Role on Poverty Eradication



Poverty and poverty reduction is one of the most debated topics in international studies over the years because of its continued increase in most of the developed and less developed economies across the globe. It is a multidimensional phenomena describing various dimensions witnessed in a huge number of populations as lacking the opportunity with most of the opportunities for instance, job opportunities remaining closed for the poor masses thus rendering them the most inactive in society, lacking empowerment which makes the poor masses to have limited choices, and lack of security thus making them more vulnerable to violence and diseases (Baulch & Hoddinott, 2010).

Poverty is also described as the lack of sufficient resources or income to sustain the whole population, and in its most extreme form poverty is seen as the lack of the basic human needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and health services. On that note, poverty is described as a denial of opportunities, choices, and security hence becoming a violation of human dignity in the society. That said, poverty has dominated most of the national and international discussions/debates in most of the developing economies (Baulch & Hoddinott, 2010).

According to the World Bank, one is described as poor if they live on a per capita income of less than US$370 on average while those who are extremely poor live on a per capita of less than US$1 per day. In Africa for instance, 1.1 billion people in 2014 had their expenditures below US$1 per day while 2.7 billion people lived on expenditure less than US$2. The continuing persistence of social problems such as societal conflicts over limited resources, crimes, and the persistence of slums (housing clusters) in developing economies shows how poverty is a universal problem which requires drastic measures to address it (World Bank, 2015).

The poor masses, therefore, are denied the basic capacity to participate in economic activities and in most of the developing economies, poverty widespread is a reality. In my own opinion, poverty is one of the most retarding factors in human life, hence the root cause of underdevelopment in most of the developing economies including Africa That said, the essay will focus on some of the contributing factors that have resulted into the widespread of poverty, the consequences of poverty individual contributing to the cycle of poverty, the effects of poverty on society, and some of the policies by the various government to end poverty (World Bank, 2015).

Factors Contributing to the Continuation of Poverty


The increasing rate of unemployment for instance, in Africa is one of the main contributing factors towards the continuation of poverty. Research shows that there is a positive correlation between poverty and unemployment in the sense that when a society has many people who are unemployed, their sources of life are depleted over time. The poor masses continue to be poor as the cost of living continues to increase hence unable to live quality life in the society. Majority of the populations in developing economies lack the opportunity to be employed because of the increasing illiteracy rates resulting into poor living standards (Hulme & Mckay, 2005). According to the African Development Indicators, lack of education is the undisputable gateway to increase in unemployment in Africa because they lack the desired skills to work in most of the sectors of the economy. The level of unemployment among the poor, therefore, continues to increase, and this has an impact on the economic growth (Africa Development Bank, 2013).

Not enough economic resources in the community

Lack of enough economic resources in communities is another leading factor to the continuation of poverty levels in most of the developing economies across the globe. For instance, the increasing poverty rates in Africa have been attributed to the lack of enough economic resources to sustain the increasing populations with majority of the populations living below the poverty line. Most of the poor masses lack income and productive resources for sustainable livelihoods thus resulting into increasing hunger as witnessed in slum villages who are the extreme poor. The economic growth in most of these countries for instance, Sub-Saharan Africa has been low resulting into insufficient resources such as health amenities, schools, and infrastructure to sustain the increasing population. As a result, morbidity and mortality rates from illness have been increasing (Baulch & Hoddinott, 2010). Table 1 shows poverty measurement in developing economies from 1990 to 2014.

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Table 1: Poverty measurement in developing economies (World Bank, 2015).

From table 1 poverty is high in Sub-Saharan Africa and some of the socio-economic indicators that have been used to measure poverty rates include per capita income, access to education, life expectancy at birth, access to safe water and sanitation facilities, and access to health care (World Bank, 2015).

Poorly funded schools

Poorly funded schools as witnessed in most of the developing economies result into increase in illiterate levels which later in life translate into increase in poverty levels. In Sub-Saharan Africa, most of these economies have been characterized with increase in corruption levels whereby most of the funds set aside for the construction of adequate schools have fallen into the hands of a few elites in the society. Several dishonest leaders are held responsible for diverting funds meant for construction of schools and other developmental projects to the construction of private projects at the expense of the larger society. As a result, most of the schools lack the most important amenities including infrastructure thus resulting into poor turnout by the students. Skilled and experienced teachers also lack in most of these schools thus resulting into poor performance by the students. The level of illiteracy have also increased at an alarming rate thus acting as an impediment to getting employment opportunities and also sustainable development (Baulch & Hoddinott, 2010).

Gender Inequality

Another significant cause of poverty in developing economies is gender inequality. For instance, most of the women have been left out in most of the developmental projects in societies thus resulting into more poverty rates among women. Gender biases in most of these economies are embedded in social institutions, and this is the reason why gender disparities persist based on these social institutions (Hulme & Mckay, 2005). For instance, legal and social institutions in Africa do not guarantee women’s equality in access to power, human rights, social and political participation, employment and earnings, education, and control of land and resources. All these disparities in the societies have consequences for women and their children since they have being left out in most of the economic activities. Lone-mother families in most of the developing economies continue to be vulnerable to poverty. The income for poor lone-mothers on average is $9046 which is below the poverty line. The other categories of people vulnerable to poverty are people with disabilities. In 2014 for instance, 18.4 percent of the population with disabilities in Ireland are struggling with poverty (World Bank, 2015).

Inadequate social policies

Inadequate social policies in communities have resulted into increase in poverty rates. For many years, social degradation and poverty arising from social inequality have been considered an economic problem in most of the developing economies. As a result, social exclusion has arisen attributed to the complex cultural, social, and economic practices thus excluding some of the populations from accessing the benefits of economic and social development (Hulme & Mckay, 2005). Most of the governments have not implemented social policies for instance, a policy ensuring that all populations have access to equal jobs and basic social services required to sustain minimum standards of living. As a result, majority of the populations have been excluded from social, cultural, and economic practices thus forming the majority poor in the societies. Lack of adequate social policies, therefore, has consequences as it affects individuals, groups, and community opportunities to access quality healthcare, education, good work, safe and secure living standards, and decent housing (Baulch & Hoddinott, 2010).

Failing Governance System

Governance in any society has direct links to livelihood security. Poor governance in any country hinders technically driven economic developments thus increasing the levels of poverty in the country. Governance is expressed in terms of the relationship between the state and citizens, and it is also expressed by the state by fulfilling the obligations to the citizens. Societies require strong institutions that are governed by the rule of law with most of these institutions failing in their mandate. A good example is the increasing corruption in most of the developing economies by those entrusted with power by the citizens. Corruption has destabilized most of the social, economic, and political systems with government funds being misappropriated by the greedy leaders thus resulting into majority poor and minority rich in the societies. Most of the political leaders have ignored the wellbeing of those who put them into power by embezzling and mismanaging state funds thus resulting into unequal allocation of resources (Hulme & Mckay, 2005).

Consequences of Poverty Individual Contributing to the Cycle of Poverty


Education is one of the basic human needs which need to be satisfied so as to ensure that people in a society live quality life. However, this basic education is lacking in most of the poor populations because they can hardly afford quality education. Increasing rates of poverty in developing countries has many consequences including education. Majority of the poor masses in these economies have barely little or no education consequently resulting into poor living standards. Education plays a key role in reducing poverty since people are able to get job opportunities in line with their skills and expertise. Education is key to economic development because it boosts national productivity; increases economic growth, enhances innovation, and values social cohesion and democracy. However, poverty in most of the African economies has left majority of the population with inadequate education to help them access jobs in the labour market (Hulme & Mckay, 2005).

The education system in most of the countries is regarded as a failure hence violating human rights. In most of the developed economies, everyone has a right to access quality education although this right has being denied to the many poor as they are considered as invisible to the society. The education opportunities are minimal hence depriving the majority poor access to quality education. Majority of the poor especially women are not able to make use of the human capital and also access basic services and resources thus economic a social problem to them. As a result, the poor are unable to access physical and natural capital such as land and money to sustain their families. Most of the women lack this basic education and this is the reason why majority of them are in unpaid labor such as taking care of their children and tilling the land and this has an impact on health. Majority of the poor educated women, their voices are not hard whether as paid or unpaid citizens, and this is the reason why majority of them are missing from discussions/debates on development and finance (Hulme & Mckay, 2005).


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Living in Poverty
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Caroline Mutuku (Author), 2017, Living in Poverty, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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