Poverty and wealth inequality is detrimental to all people in the long run when viewed in sociological angle. They contribute immensely to the erosion of social cohesion and all the taxpayers have the burden to pay for the reduction of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, healthcare services, and crime in the affected nations. When poverty is not addressed, the economic system of the affected countries and well-being are at great risk unless actions are taken to reverse it. Most studies both in economics and sociology have revealed that poverty has devastating outcomes such as; more preventable deaths, chronic diseases, poor health, social injustice, and decreased productivity at workplaces. As mentioned previously, long-term effects of poverty can cause economic and political erosion and social instability. Due to the above-mentioned reasons, it is important to focus more keenly on poverty and its potential detriments to the nations.
Income poverty can be defined in two dimensions which include absolute and relative poverty. To begin with, absolute poverty refers to the standard set and is the same throughout the world and does not change over time. For instance, an income-related case would be like living on less or more than $X daily. On the other hand, relative poverty is defined with regards to a society where a person lives hence varies between countries and as time changes. For example, relative poverty comparison would be living on less or more than $X on average in Canada.
B Who is Poor?
In most cases, the rate of poverty is a representation of the average over the whole population and never clarifies who is worse or well-off. In the US, Blacks and the Hispanics according to numerous studies have poverty rates which significantly surpass the average. In the 1980s and 1990s, the poverty rates of these people remained so high although as the world welcomed the millennium, their rates reduced. It is therefore evident from this illustration that each section of the world just as the US has its method of determining who is poor.
The concept of poverty in most countries is that there are minimum economic standards under which no individual worldwide should ever fall. Therefore, the person who is considered poor is one who unable to live over the minimum economic standards which define poverty.
C. Multifaceted approach to Poverty Definition
As already mentioned poverty is a multifaceted idea and may include political, social, and economic essentials. The inability to meet the basic and fundamental personal effects such as clothing, shelter and the food is referred to as destitution/extreme or absolute poverty. The above description is the economic view and therefore the definition of poverty.
Other facets of viewing poverty include gender, race, and ethnicity. In the contemporary world, governments are focused on discussing the levels of poverty among women. These discussions have been at the epicenter of political agendas. However, one horrifying fact is that these discussions never consider the sophisticated link between gender and poverty. It is high time political leaders and policymakers considered the burden women bear in dealing with poverty. Generally, womens economic power compared to the male counterparts is in a worrying state.
D. Official Poverty Line
Poverty line otherwise referred to as the poverty threshold or guidelines is methods of estimating the amounts in dollars required to support each person in a family according to the standards of living. However, these guidelines may not be a proper reflection of the average needs of each member of a given family composition. These guidelines are therefore not realistic because each person in a family requires a different amount of dollars to support their lives as opposed to the averages determined by the poverty threshold. Comparing these average estimates with my level of income, they appear to be relatively lower.
E. Issues in Measuring Poverty
Those who live below the poverty line do not have enough to cater for their basic needs. Each country has its unique way of determining poverty line (relative poverty). However, as previously mentioned, the poverty lines determined by each country are not realistic means to estimate the levels for defining poverty. Only money is used in such determinations forgetting that there are non-monetary assets people possess which add to their wealth. Non-cash benefits must be considered in determining the poverty levels of people before classifying individuals as either poor or well-off. Additionally, absolute poverty should be given more weight instead of relative. Economic strengths of different countries vary and absolute poverty bets describes the levels upon which an individual should live to be considered well-off.
F. Cost of Poverty
The following are the weaknesses of the current poverty measure; the method depends on surveys which may not be absolutely true, geographical differences in the cost of living is not considered, the definitions of income used do not consider tax and other non-cash benefits, and the threshold used has not been updated to give the real standard of wants.
G. Poverty Industry
Poverty industry refers to the wide spectrum of activities to make money which attracts a bigger portion of their transactions from the poor because they are vulnerable. In such scenarios, it is not the interest of the poor that is being served but rather those of the exploiters and on many occasions, they are government representatives. Laws for instance abolishment of legal aid meant for the welfare claimants who are the poor tend to hurt the sick and the most vulnerable who cannot meet their basic needs. Such laws when introduced become detrimental both structurally and institutionally.
H History of Response to Poverty
As described before, poverty can be viewed in three dimensions which include social, economic, and political. The social context of poverty and therefore how it was responded to in the past defines it as the social exclusion, dependency, or lack of entitlement.
Causes of poverty in the social context are with regards to the behaviors of poor people which include; considering the poor as inadequate and made bad choices, poverty run in their families and it is transmitted from generation to another, and that poor people adapt to poverty and they learn to be different.
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