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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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.”

Why, then, when it comes to poverty reduction, have we had 50 years of nothing? When I first started looking into this depressing state of affairs, I assumed America’s efforts to reduce poverty had stalled because we stopped trying to solve the problem. I bought into the idea, popular among progressives, that the election of President Ronald Reagan (as well as that of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom) marked the ascendancy of market fundamentalism, or “neoliberalism,” a time when governments cut aid to the poor, lowered taxes and slashed regulations. If American poverty persisted, I thought, it was because we had reduced our spending on the poor. But I was wrong.

A black-and-white photograph of a family in a car. The mother is laying down in the front looking up despondently. Two children are crouched in the back. A boy looks out from under pieces of furniture looking directly into the camera from the shadows.

Reagan expanded corporate power, deeply cut taxes on the rich and rolled back spending on some antipoverty initiatives, especially in housing. But he was unable to make large-scale, long-term cuts to many of the programs that make up the American welfare state. Throughout Reagan’s eight years as president, antipoverty spending grew, and it continued to grow after he left office. Spending on the nation’s 13 largest means-tested programs — aid reserved for Americans who fall below a certain income level — went from $1,015 a person the year Reagan was elected president to $3,419 a person one year into Donald Trump’s administration, a 237 percent increase.

Most of this increase was due to health care spending, and Medicaid in particular. But even if we exclude Medicaid from the calculation, we find that federal investments in means-tested programs increased by 130 percent from 1980 to 2018, from $630 to $1,448 per person.

“Neoliberalism” is now part of the left’s lexicon, but I looked in vain to find it in the plain print of federal budgets, at least as far as aid to the poor was concerned. There is no evidence that the United States has become stingier over time. The opposite is true.

This makes the country’s stalled progress on poverty even more baffling. Decade after decade, the poverty rate has remained flat even as federal relief has surged.

If we have more than doubled government spending on poverty and achieved so little, one reason is that the American welfare state is a leaky bucket. Take welfare, for example: When it was administered through the Aid to Families With Dependent Children program, almost all of its funds were used to provide single-parent families with cash assistance. But when President Bill Clinton reformed welfare in 1996, replacing the old model with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), he transformed the program into a block grant that gives states considerable leeway in deciding how to distribute the money. As a result, states have come up with rather creative ways to spend TANF dollars. Arizona has used welfare money to pay for abstinence-only sex education. Pennsylvania diverted TANF funds to anti-abortion crisis-pregnancy centers. Maine used the money to support a Christian summer camp. Nationwide, for every dollar budgeted for TANF in 2020, poor families directly received just 22 cents.

We’ve approached the poverty question by pointing to poor people themselves, when we should have been focusing on exploitation.

A fair amount of government aid earmarked for the poor never reaches them. But this does not fully solve the puzzle of why poverty has been so stubbornly persistent, because many of the country’s largest social-welfare programs distribute funds directly to people. Roughly 85 percent of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program budget is dedicated to funding food stamps themselves, and almost 93 percent of Medicaid dollars flow directly to beneficiaries.

There are, it would seem, deeper structural forces at play, ones that have to do with the way the American poor are routinely taken advantage of. The primary reason for our stalled progress on poverty reduction has to do with the fact that we have not confronted the unrelenting exploitation of the poor in the labor, housing and financial markets.

As a theory of poverty, “exploitation” elicits a muddled response, causing us to think of course and but, no in the same instant. The word carries a moral charge, but social scientists have a fairly coolheaded way to measure exploitation: When we are underpaid relative to the value of what we produce, we experience labor exploitation; when we are overcharged relative to the value of something we purchase, we experience consumer exploitation. For example, if a family paid $1,000 a month to rent an apartment with a market value of $20,000, that family would experience a higher level of renter exploitation than a family who paid the same amount for an apartment with a market valuation of $100,000. When we don’t own property or can’t access credit, we become dependent on people who do and can, which in turn invites exploitation, because a bad deal for you is a good deal for me.

Our vulnerability to exploitation grows as our liberty shrinks. Because labor laws often fail to protect undocumented workers in practice, more than a third are paid below minimum wage, and nearly 85 percent are not paid overtime. Many of us who are U.S. citizens, or who crossed borders through official checkpoints, would not work for these wages. We don’t have to. If they migrate here as adults, those undocumented workers choose the terms of their arrangement. But just because desperate people accept and even seek out exploitative conditions doesn’t make those conditions any less exploitative. Sometimes exploitation is simply the best bad option.

Consider how many employers now get one over on American workers. The United States offers some of the lowest wages in the industrialized world. A larger share of workers in the United States make “low pay” — earning less than two-thirds of median wages — than in any other country belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. According to the group, nearly 23 percent of American workers labor in low-paying jobs, compared with roughly 17 percent in Britain, 11 percent in Japan and 5 percent in Italy. Poverty wages have swollen the ranks of the American working poor, most of whom are 35 or older.

One popular theory for the loss of good jobs is deindustrialization, which caused the shuttering of factories and the hollowing out of communities that had sprung up around them. Such a passive word, “deindustrialization” — leaving the impression that it just happened somehow, as if the country got deindustrialization the way a forest gets infested by bark beetles. But economic forces framed as inexorable, like deindustrialization and the acceleration of global trade, are often helped along by policy decisions like the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which made it easier for companies to move their factories to Mexico and contributed to the loss of hundreds of thousands of American jobs. The world has changed, but it has changed for other economies as well. Yet Belgium and Canada and many other countries haven’t experienced the kind of wage stagnation and surge in income inequality that the United States has.

Those countries managed to keep their unions. We didn’t. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, nearly a third of all U.S. workers carried union cards. These were the days of the United Automobile Workers, led by Walter Reuther, once savagely beaten by Ford’s brass-knuckle boys, and of the mighty American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations that together represented around 15 million workers, more than the population of California at the time.

In their heyday, unions put up a fight. In 1970 alone, 2.4 million union members participated in work stoppages, wildcat strikes and tense standoffs with company heads. The labor movement fought for better pay and safer working conditions and supported antipoverty policies. Their efforts paid off for both unionized and nonunionized workers, as companies like Eastman Kodak were compelled to provide generous compensation and benefits to their workers to prevent them from organizing. By one estimate, the wages of nonunionized men without a college degree would be 8 percent higher today if union strength remained what it was in the late 1970s, a time when worker pay climbed, chief-executive compensation was reined in and the country experienced the most economically equitable period in modern history.

It is important to note that Old Labor was often a white man’s refuge. In the 1930s, many unions outwardly discriminated against Black workers or segregated them into Jim Crow local chapters. In the 1960s, unions like the Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America enforced segregation within their ranks. Unions harmed themselves through their self-defeating racism and were further weakened by a changing economy. But organized labor was also attacked by political adversaries. As unions flagged, business interests sensed an opportunity. Corporate lobbyists made deep inroads in both political parties, beginning a public-relations campaign that pressured policymakers to roll back worker protections.

A national litmus test arrived in 1981, when 13,000 unionized air traffic controllers left their posts after contract negotiations with the Federal Aviation Administration broke down. When the workers refused to return, Reagan fired all of them. The public’s response was muted, and corporate America learned that it could crush unions with minimal blowback. And so it went, in one industry after another.

Today almost all private-sector employees (94 percent) are without a union, though roughly half of nonunion workers say they would organize if given the chance. They rarely are. Employers have at their disposal an arsenal of tactics designed to prevent collective bargaining, from hiring union-busting firms to telling employees that they could lose their jobs if they vote yes. Those strategies are legal, but companies also make illegal moves to block unions, like disciplining workers for trying to organize or threatening to close facilities. In 2016 and 2017, the National Labor Relations Board charged 42 percent of employers with violating federal law during union campaigns. In nearly a third of cases, this involved illegally firing workers for organizing.

Corporate lobbyists told us that organized labor was a drag on the economy — that once the companies had cleared out all these fusty, lumbering unions, the economy would rev up, raising everyone’s fortunes. But that didn’t come to pass. The negative effects of unions have been wildly overstated, and there is now evidence that unions play a role in increasing company productivity, for example by reducing turnover. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics measures productivity as how efficiently companies turn inputs (like materials and labor) into outputs (like goods and services). Historically, productivity, wages and profits rise and fall in lock step. But the American economy is less productive today than it was in the post-World War II period, when unions were at peak strength. The economies of other rich countries have slowed as well, including those with more highly unionized work forces, but it is clear that diluting labor power in America did not unleash economic growth or deliver prosperity to more people. “We were promised economic dynamism in exchange for inequality,” Eric Posner and Glen Weyl write in their book “Radical Markets.” “We got the inequality, but dynamism is actually declining.”

As workers lost power, their jobs got worse. For several decades after World War II, ordinary workers’ inflation-adjusted wages (known as “real wages”) increased by 2 percent each year. But since 1979, real wages have grown by only 0.3 percent a year. Astonishingly, workers with a high school diploma made 2.7 percent less in 2017 than they would have in 1979, adjusting for inflation. Workers without a diploma made nearly 10 percent less.

Lousy, underpaid work is not an indispensable, if regrettable, byproduct of capitalism, as some business defenders claim today. (This notion would have scandalized capitalism’s earliest defenders. John Stuart Mill, arch advocate of free people and free markets, once said that if widespread scarcity was a hallmark of capitalism, he would become a communist.) But capitalism is inherently about owners trying to give as little, and workers trying to get as much, as possible. With unions largely out of the picture, corporations have chipped away at the conventional midcentury work arrangement, which involved steady employment, opportunities for advancement and raises and decent pay with some benefits.

As the sociologist Gerald Davis has put it: Our grandparents had careers. Our parents had jobs. We complete tasks. Or at least that has been the story of the American working class and working poor.

Poor Americans aren’t just exploited in the labor market. They face consumer exploitation in the housing and financial markets as well.

There is a long history of slum exploitation in America. Money made slums because slums made money. Rent has more than doubled over the past two decades, rising much faster than renters’ incomes. Median rent rose from $483 in 2000 to $1,216 in 2021. Why have rents shot up so fast? Experts tend to offer the same rote answers to this question. There’s not enough housing supply, they say, and too much demand. Landlords must charge more just to earn a decent rate of return. Must they? How do we know?

We need more housing; no one can deny that. But rents have jumped even in cities with plenty of apartments to go around. At the end of 2021, almost 19 percent of rental units in Birmingham, Ala., sat vacant, as did 12 percent of those in Syracuse, N.Y. Yet rent in those areas increased by roughly 14 percent and 8 percent, respectively, over the previous two years. National data also show that rental revenues have far outpaced property owners’ expenses in recent years, especially for multifamily properties in poor neighborhoods. Rising rents are not simply a reflection of rising operating costs. There’s another dynamic at work, one that has to do with the fact that poor people — and particularly poor Black families — don’t have much choice when it comes to where they can live. Because of that, landlords can overcharge them, and they do.

A study I published with Nathan Wilmers found that after accounting for all costs, landlords operating in poor neighborhoods typically take in profits that are double those of landlords operating in affluent communities. If down-market landlords make more, it’s because their regular expenses (especially their mortgages and property-tax bills) are considerably lower than those in upscale neighborhoods. But in many cities with average or below-average housing costs — think Buffalo, not Boston — rents in the poorest neighborhoods are not drastically lower than rents in the middle-class sections of town. From 2015 to 2019, median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Indianapolis metropolitan area was $991; it was $816 in neighborhoods with poverty rates above 40 percent, just around 17 percent less. Rents are lower in extremely poor neighborhoods, but not by as much as you would think.

Yet where else can poor families live? They are shut out of homeownership because banks are disinclined to issue small-dollar mortgages, and they are also shut out of public housing, which now has waiting lists that stretch on for years and even decades. Struggling families looking for a safe, affordable place to live in America usually have but one choice: to rent from private landlords and fork over at least half their income to rent and utilities. If millions of poor renters accept this state of affairs, it’s not because they can’t afford better alternatives; it’s because they often aren’t offered any.

You can read injunctions against usury in the Vedic texts of ancient India, in the sutras of Buddhism and in the Torah. Aristotle and Aquinas both rebuked it. Dante sent moneylenders to the seventh circle of hell. None of these efforts did much to stem the practice, but they do reveal that the unprincipled act of trapping the poor in a cycle of debt has existed at least as long as the written word. It might be the oldest form of exploitation after slavery. Many writers have depicted America’s poor as unseen, shadowed and forgotten people: as “other” or “invisible.” But markets have never failed to notice the poor, and this has been particularly true of the market for money itself.

The deregulation of the banking system in the 1980s heightened competition among banks. Many responded by raising fees and requiring customers to carry minimum balances. In 1977, over a third of banks offered accounts with no service charge. By the early 1990s, only 5 percent did. Big banks grew bigger as community banks shuttered, and in 2021, the largest banks in America charged customers almost $11 billion in overdraft fees. Previous research showed that just 9 percent of account holders paid 84 percent of these fees. Who were the unlucky 9 percent? Customers who carried an average balance of less than $350. The poor were made to pay for their poverty.

In 2021, the average fee for overdrawing your account was $33.58. Because banks often issue multiple charges a day, it’s not uncommon to overdraw your account by $20 and end up paying $200 for it. Banks could (and do) deny accounts to people who have a history of overextending their money, but those customers also provide a steady revenue stream for some of the most powerful financial institutions in the world.

Every year: almost $11 billion in overdraft fees, $1.6 billion in check-cashing fees and up to $8.2 billion in payday-loan fees.

According to the F.D.I.C., one in 19 U.S. households had no bank account in 2019, amounting to more than seven million families. Compared with white families, Black and Hispanic families were nearly five times as likely to lack a bank account. Where there is exclusion, there is exploitation. Unbanked Americans have created a market, and thousands of check-cashing outlets now serve that market. Check-cashing stores generally charge from 1 to 10 percent of the total, depending on the type of check. That means that a worker who is paid $10 an hour and takes a $1,000 check to a check-cashing outlet will pay $10 to $100 just to receive the money he has earned, effectively losing one to 10 hours of work. (For many, this is preferable to the less-predictable exploitation by traditional banks, with their automatic overdraft fees. It’s the devil you know.) In 2020, Americans spent $1.6 billion just to cash checks. If the poor had a costless way to access their own money, over a billion dollars would have remained in their pockets during the pandemic-induced recession.

Poverty can mean missed payments, which can ruin your credit. But just as troublesome as bad credit is having no credit score at all, which is the case for 26 million adults in the United States. Another 19 million possess a credit history too thin or outdated to be scored. Having no credit (or bad credit) can prevent you from securing an apartment, buying insurance and even landing a job, as employers are increasingly relying on credit checks during the hiring process. And when the inevitable happens — when you lose hours at work or when the car refuses to start — the payday-loan industry steps in.

For most of American history, regulators prohibited lending institutions from charging exorbitant interest on loans. Because of these limits, banks kept interest rates between 6 and 12 percent and didn’t do much business with the poor, who in a pinch took their valuables to the pawnbroker or the loan shark. But the deregulation of the banking sector in the 1980s ushered the money changers back into the temple by removing strict usury limits. Interest rates soon reached 300 percent, then 500 percent, then 700 percent. Suddenly, some people were very interested in starting businesses that lent to the poor. In recent years, 17 states have brought back strong usury limits, capping interest rates and effectively prohibiting payday lending. But the trade thrives in most places. The annual percentage rate for a two-week $300 loan can reach 460 percent in California, 516 percent in Wisconsin and 664 percent in Texas.

Roughly a third of all payday loans are now issued online, and almost half of borrowers who have taken out online loans have had lenders overdraw their bank accounts. The average borrower stays indebted for five months, paying $520 in fees to borrow $375. Keeping people indebted is, of course, the ideal outcome for the payday lender. It’s how they turn a $15 profit into a $150 one. Payday lenders do not charge high fees because lending to the poor is risky — even after multiple extensions, most borrowers pay up. Lenders extort because they can.

Every year: almost $11 billion in overdraft fees, $1.6 billion in check-cashing fees and up to $8.2 billion in payday-loan fees. That’s more than $55 million in fees collected predominantly from low-income Americans each day — not even counting the annual revenue collected by pawnshops and title loan services and rent-to-own schemes. When James Baldwin remarked in 1961 how “extremely expensive it is to be poor,” he couldn’t have imagined these receipts.

“Predatory inclusion” is what the historian Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor calls it in her book “Race for Profit,” describing the longstanding American tradition of incorporating marginalized people into housing and financial schemes through bad deals when they are denied good ones. The exclusion of poor people from traditional banking and credit systems has forced them to find alternative ways to cash checks and secure loans, which has led to a normalization of their exploitation. This is all perfectly legal, after all, and subsidized by the nation’s richest commercial banks. The fringe banking sector would not exist without lines of credit extended by the conventional one. Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase bankroll payday lenders like Advance America and Cash America. Everybody gets a cut.

Poverty isn’t simply the condition of not having enough money. It’s the condition of not having enough choice and being taken advantage of because of that. When we ignore the role that exploitation plays in trapping people in poverty, we end up designing policy that is weak at best and ineffective at worst. For example, when legislation lifts incomes at the bottom without addressing the housing crisis, those gains are often realized instead by landlords, not wholly by the families the legislation was intended to help. A 2019 study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia found that when states raised minimum wages, families initially found it easier to pay rent. But landlords quickly responded to the wage bumps by increasing rents, which diluted the effect of the policy. This happened after the pandemic rescue packages, too: When wages began to rise in 2021 after worker shortages, rents rose as well, and soon people found themselves back where they started or worse.

Antipoverty programs work. Each year, millions of families are spared the indignities and hardships of severe deprivation because of these government investments. But our current antipoverty programs cannot abolish poverty by themselves. The Johnson administration started the War on Poverty and the Great Society in 1964. These initiatives constituted a bundle of domestic programs that included the Food Stamp Act, which made food aid permanent; the Economic Opportunity Act, which created Job Corps and Head Start; and the Social Security Amendments of 1965, which founded Medicare and Medicaid and expanded Social Security benefits. Nearly 200 pieces of legislation were signed into law in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s first five years in office, a breathtaking level of activity. And the result? Ten years after the first of these programs were rolled out in 1964, the share of Americans living in poverty was half what it was in 1960.

But the War on Poverty and the Great Society were started during a time when organized labor was strong, incomes were climbing, rents were modest and the fringe banking industry as we know it today didn’t exist. Today multiple forms of exploitation have turned antipoverty programs into something like dialysis, a treatment designed to make poverty less lethal, not to make it disappear.

This means we don’t just need deeper antipoverty investments. We need different ones, policies that refuse to partner with poverty, policies that threaten its very survival. We need to ensure that aid directed at poor people stays in their pockets, instead of being captured by companies whose low wages are subsidized by government benefits, or by landlords who raise the rents as their tenants’ wages rise, or by banks and payday-loan outlets who issue exorbitant fines and fees. Unless we confront the many forms of exploitation that poor families face, we risk increasing government spending only to experience another 50 years of sclerosis in the fight against poverty.

The best way to address labor exploitation is to empower workers. A renewed contract with American workers should make organizing easy. As things currently stand, unionizing a workplace is incredibly difficult. Under current labor law, workers who want to organize must do so one Amazon warehouse or one Starbucks location at a time. We have little chance of empowering the nation’s warehouse workers and baristas this way. This is why many new labor movements are trying to organize entire sectors. The Fight for $15 campaign, led by the Service Employees International Union, doesn’t focus on a single franchise (a specific McDonald’s store) or even a single company (McDonald’s) but brings together workers from several fast-food chains. It’s a new kind of labor power, and one that could be expanded: If enough workers in a specific economic sector — retail, hotel services, nursing — voted for the measure, the secretary of labor could establish a bargaining panel made up of representatives elected by the workers. The panel could negotiate with companies to secure the best terms for workers across the industry. This is a way to organize all Amazon warehouses and all Starbucks locations in a single go.

Sectoral bargaining, as it’s called, would affect tens of millions of Americans who have never benefited from a union of their own, just as it has improved the lives of workers in Europe and Latin America. The idea has been criticized by members of the business community, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has raised concerns about the inflexibility and even the constitutionality of sectoral bargaining, as well as by labor advocates, who fear that industrywide policies could nullify gains that existing unions have made or could be achieved only if workers make other sacrifices. Proponents of the idea counter that sectoral bargaining could even the playing field, not only between workers and bosses, but also between companies in the same sector that would no longer be locked into a race to the bottom, with an incentive to shortchange their work force to gain a competitive edge. Instead, the companies would be forced to compete over the quality of the goods and services they offer. Maybe we would finally reap the benefits of all that economic productivity we were promised.

We must also expand the housing options for low-income families. There isn’t a single right way to do this, but there is clearly a wrong way: the way we’re doing it now. One straightforward approach is to strengthen our commitment to the housing programs we already have. Public housing provides affordable homes to millions of Americans, but it’s drastically underfunded relative to the need. When the wealthy township of Cherry Hill, N.J., opened applications for 29 affordable apartments in 2021, 9,309 people applied. The sky-high demand should tell us something, though: that affordable housing is a life changer, and families are desperate for it.

We could also pave the way for more Americans to become homeowners, an initiative that could benefit poor, working-class and middle-class families alike — as well as scores of young people. Banks generally avoid issuing small-dollar mortgages, not because they’re riskier — these mortgages have the same delinquency rates as larger mortgages — but because they’re less profitable. Over the life of a mortgage, interest on $1 million brings in a lot more money than interest on $75,000. This is where the federal government could step in, providing extra financing to build on-ramps to first-time homeownership. In fact, it already does so in rural America through the 502 Direct Loan Program, which has moved more than two million families into their own homes. These loans, fully guaranteed and serviced by the Department of Agriculture, come with low interest rates and, for very poor families, cover the entire cost of the mortgage, nullifying the need for a down payment. Last year, the average 502 Direct Loan was for $222,300 but cost the government only $10,370 per loan, chump change for such a durable intervention. Expanding a program like this into urban communities would provide even more low- and moderate-income families with homes of their own.

We should also ensure fair access to capital. Banks should stop robbing the poor and near-poor of billions of dollars each year, immediately ending exorbitant overdraft fees. As the legal scholar Mehrsa Baradaran has pointed out, when someone overdraws an account, banks could simply freeze the transaction or could clear a check with insufficient funds, providing customers a kind of short-term loan with a low interest rate of, say, 1 percent a day.

States should rein in payday-lending institutions and insist that lenders make it clear to potential borrowers what a loan is ultimately likely to cost them. Just as fast-food restaurants must now publish calorie counts next to their burgers and shakes, payday-loan stores should publish the average overall cost of different loans. When Texas adopted disclosure rules, residents took out considerably fewer bad loans. If Texas can do this, why not California or Wisconsin? Yet to stop financial exploitation, we need to expand, not limit, low-income Americans’ access to credit. Some have suggested that the government get involved by having the U.S. Postal Service or the Federal Reserve issue small-dollar loans. Others have argued that we should revise government regulations to entice commercial banks to pitch in. Whatever our approach, solutions should offer low-income Americans more choice, a way to end their reliance on predatory lending institutions that can get away with robbery because they are the only option available.

In Tommy Orange’s novel, “There There,” a man trying to describe the problem of suicides on Native American reservations says: “Kids are jumping out the windows of burning buildings, falling to their deaths. And we think the problem is that they’re jumping.” The poverty debate has suffered from a similar kind of myopia. For the past half-century, we’ve approached the poverty question by pointing to poor people themselves — posing questions about their work ethic, say, or their welfare benefits — when we should have been focusing on the fire. The question that should serve as a looping incantation, the one we should ask every time we drive past a tent encampment, those tarped American slums smelling of asphalt and bodies, or every time we see someone asleep on the bus, slumped over in work clothes, is simply: Who benefits? Not: Why don’t you find a better job? Or: Why don’t you move? Or: Why don’t you stop taking out payday loans? But: Who is feeding off this?

Those who have amassed the most power and capital bear the most responsibility for America’s vast poverty: political elites who have utterly failed low-income Americans over the past half-century; corporate bosses who have spent and schemed to prioritize profits over families; lobbyists blocking the will of the American people with their self-serving interests; property owners who have exiled the poor from entire cities and fueled the affordable-housing crisis. Acknowledging this is both crucial and deliciously absolving; it directs our attention upward and distracts us from all the ways (many unintentional) that we — we the secure, the insured, the housed, the college-educated, the protected, the lucky — also contribute to the problem.

Corporations benefit from worker exploitation, sure, but so do consumers, who buy the cheap goods and services the working poor produce, and so do those of us directly or indirectly invested in the stock market. Landlords are not the only ones who benefit from housing exploitation; many homeowners do, too, their property values propped up by the collective effort to make housing scarce and expensive. The banking and payday-lending industries profit from the financial exploitation of the poor, but so do those of us with free checking accounts, as those accounts are subsidized by billions of dollars in overdraft fees.

Living our daily lives in ways that express solidarity with the poor could mean we pay more; anti-exploitative investing could dampen our stock portfolios. By acknowledging those costs, we acknowledge our complicity. Unwinding ourselves from our neighbors’ deprivation and refusing to live as enemies of the poor will require us to pay a price. It’s the price of our restored humanity and renewed country.

Matthew Desmond is a professor of sociology at Princeton University and a contributing writer for the magazine. His latest book, “Poverty, by America,” from which this article is adapted, is being published on March 21 by Crown.

An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the legal protections for undocumented workers. They are afforded rights under U.S. labor laws, though in practice those laws often fail to protect them.

An earlier version of this article implied an incorrect date for a statistic about overdraft fees. The research was conducted between 2005 and 2012, not in 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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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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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.

Škare, M., & Družeta R. P. (2016). Poverty and economic growth: A review . Technological and Economic Development of Economy, 22 (1), 156-175.

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7 Essays About Poverty: Example Essays and Prompts

Essays about poverty give valuable insight into the economic situation that we share globally. Read our guide with poverty essay examples and prompts for your paper.

In the US, the official poverty rate in 2022 was 11.5 percent, with 37.9 million people living below the poverty line. With a global pandemic, cost of living crisis, and climate change on the rise, we’ve seen poverty increase due to various factors. As many of us face adversity daily, we can look to essays about poverty from some of the world’s greatest speakers for inspiration and guidance.

There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every American citizen whether he be a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid or day laborer. There is nothing except shortsightedness to prevent us from guaranteeing an annual minimum—and livable—income for every American family. Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

Writing a poverty essay can be challenging due to the many factors contributing to poverty and the knock-on effects of living below the poverty line . For example, homelessness among low-income individuals stems from many different causes.

It’s important to note that poverty exists beyond the US, with many developing countries living in extreme poverty without access to essentials like clean water and housing. For help with your essays, check out our round-up of the best essay checkers .

Essays About Poverty: Top Examples

1. pensioner poverty: fear of rise over decades as uk under-40s wealth falls, 2. the surprising poverty levels across the u.s., 3. why poverty persists in america, 4. post-pandemic poverty is rising in america’s suburbs.

  • 5. The Basic Facts About Children in Poverty
  • 6. The State of America’s Children 
  • 7. COVID-19: This is how many Americans now live below the poverty line

10 Poverty Essay Topics

1. the causes of poverty, 2. the negative effects of poverty, 3. how countries can reduce poverty rates, 4. the basic necessities and poverty, 5. how disabilities can lead to poverty, 6. how the cycle of poverty unfolds , 7. universal basic income and its relationship to poverty, 8. interview someone who has experience living in poverty, 9. the impact of the criminal justice system on poverty, 10. the different ways to create affordable housing.

There is growing concern about increasing pensioner poverty in the UK in the coming decades. Due to financial challenges like the cost of living crisis, rent increases, and the COVID-19 pandemic, under 40s have seen their finances shrink.

Osborne discusses the housing wealth gap in this article, where many under the 40s currently pay less in a pension due to rent prices. While this means they will have less pension available, they will also retire without owning a home, resulting in less personal wealth than previous generations. Osborne delves into the causes and gaps in wealth between generations in this in-depth essay.

“Those under-40s have already been identified as  facing the biggest hit from rising mortgage rates , and last week a study by the financial advice firm Hargreaves Lansdown found that almost a third of 18- to 34-year-olds had stopped or cut back on their pension contributions in order to save money.” Hilary Osborne,  The Guardian

In this 2023 essay, Jeremy Ney looks at the poverty levels across the US, stating that poverty has had the largest one-year increase in history. According to the most recent census, child poverty has more than doubled from 2021 to 2022.

Ney states that the expiration of government support and inflation has created new financial challenges for US families. With the increased cost of living and essential items like food and housing sharply increasing, more and more families have fallen below the poverty line. Throughout this essay, Ney displays statistics and data showing the wealth changes across states, ethnic groups, and households.

“Poverty in America reflects the inequality that plagues U.S. households. While certain regions have endured this pain much more than others, this new rising trend may spell ongoing challenges for even more communities.” Jeremy Ney,  TIME

Essays About Poverty: How countries can reduce poverty rates?

In this New York Times article, a Pulitzer Prize-winning sociologist explores why poverty exists in North America.

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. Matthew Desmond,  The New York Times

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its annual data on poverty, revealing contrasting trends for 2022. While one set of findings indicated that the overall number of Americans living in poverty remained stable compared to the previous two years, another survey highlighted a concerning increase in child poverty. The rate of child poverty in the U.S. doubled from 2021 to 2022, a spike attributed mainly to the cessation of the expanded child tax credit following the pandemic. These varied outcomes underscore the Census Bureau’s multifaceted methods to measure poverty.

“The nation’s suburbs accounted for the majority of increases in the poor population following the onset of the pandemic” Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube,  Brookings

5.  The Basic Facts About Children in Poverty

Nearly 11 million children are living in poverty in America. This essay explores ow the crisis reached this point—and what steps must be taken to solve it.

“In America, nearly 11 million children are poor. That’s 1 in 7 kids, who make up almost one-third of all people living in poverty in this country.” Areeba Haider,  Center for American Progress

6.  The State of America’s Children  

This essay articles how, despite advancements, children continue to be the most impoverished demographic in the U.S., with particular subgroups — such as children of color, those under five, offspring of single mothers, and children residing in the South — facing the most severe poverty levels.

“Growing up in poverty has wide-ranging, sometimes lifelong, effects on children, putting them at a much higher risk of experiencing behavioral, social, emotional, and health challenges. Childhood poverty also plays an instrumental role in impairing a child’s ability and capacity to learn, build skills, and succeed academically.” Children’s Defense Fund

7.  COVID-19: This is how many Americans now live below the poverty line

This essay explores how the economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic 2020 led to a surge in U.S. poverty rates, with unemployment figures reaching unprecedented heights. The writer provides data confirming that individuals at the lowest economic strata bore the brunt of these challenges, indicating that the recession might have exacerbated income disparities, further widening the chasm between the affluent and the underprivileged.

“Poverty in the U.S. increased in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic hammered the economy and unemployment soared. Those at the bottom of the economic ladder were hit hardest, new figures confirm, suggesting that the recession may have widened the gap between the rich and the poor.” Elena Delavega,  World Econmic Forum

If you’re tasked with writing an essay about poverty, consider using the below topics. They offer pointers for outlining and planning an essay about this challenging topic.

One of the most specific poverty essay topics to address involves the causes of poverty. You can craft an essay to examine the most common causes of extreme poverty. Here are a few topics you might want to include:

  • Racial discrimination, particularly among African Americans, has been a common cause of poverty throughout American history. Discrimination and racism can make it hard for people to get the education they need, making it nearly impossible to get a job.
  • A lack of access to adequate health care can also lead to poverty. When people do not have access to healthcare, they are more likely to get sick. This could make it hard for them to go to work while also leading to major medical bills.
  • Inadequate food and water can lead to poverty as well. If people’s basic needs aren’t met, they focus on finding food and water instead of getting an education they can use to find a better job.

These are just a few of the most common causes of poverty you might want to highlight in your essay. These topics could help people see why some people are more likely to become impoverished than others. You might also be interested in these essays about poverty .

Poverty affects everyone, and the impacts of an impoverished lifestyle are very real. Furthermore, the disparities when comparing adult poverty to child poverty are also significant. This opens the doors to multiple possible essay topics. Here are a few points to include:

  • When children live in poverty, their development is stunted. For example, they might not be able to get to school on time due to a lack of transportation, making it hard for them to keep up with their peers. Child poverty also leads to malnutrition, which can stunt their development.
  • Poverty can impact familial relationships as well. For example, members of the same family could fight for limited resources, making it hard for family members to bond. In addition, malnutrition can stunt the growth of children.
  • As a side effect of poverty, people have difficulty finding a safe place to live. This creates a challenging environment for everyone involved, and it is even harder for children to grow and develop.
  • When poverty leads to homelessness, it is hard for someone to get a job. They don’t have an address to use for physical communication, which leads to employment concerns.

These are just a few of the many side effects of poverty. Of course, these impacts are felt by people across the board, but it is not unusual for children to feel the effects of poverty that much more. You might also be interested in these essays about unemployment .

Different countries take different approaches to reduce the number of people living in poverty

The issue of poverty is a major human rights concern, and many countries explore poverty reduction strategies to improve people’s quality of life. You might want to examine different strategies that different countries are taking while also suggesting how some countries can do more. A few ways to write this essay include:

  • Explore the poverty level in America, comparing it to the poverty level of a European country. Then, explore why different countries take different strategies.
  • Compare the minimum wage in one state, such as New York, to the minimum wage in another state, such as Alabama. Why is it higher in one state? What does raising the minimum wage do to the cost of living?
  • Highlight a few advocacy groups and nonprofit organizations actively lobbying their governments to do more for low-income families. Then, talk about why some efforts are more successful than others.

Different countries take different approaches to reduce the number of people living in poverty. Poverty within each country is such a broad topic that you could write a different essay on how poverty could be decreased within the country. For more, check out our list of simple essays topics for intermediate writers .

You could also write an essay on the necessities people need to survive. You could take a look at information published by the United Nations , which focuses on getting people out of the cycle of poverty across the globe. The social problem of poverty can be addressed by giving people the necessities they need to survive, particularly in rural areas. Here are some of the areas you might want to include:

  • Affordable housing
  • Fresh, healthy food and clean water
  • Access to an affordable education
  • Access to affordable healthcare

Giving everyone these necessities could significantly improve their well-being and get people out of absolute poverty. You might even want to talk about whether these necessities vary depending on where someone is living.

There are a lot of medical and social issues that contribute to poverty, and you could write about how disabilities contribute to poverty. This is one of the most important essay topics because people could be disabled through no fault of their own. Some of the issues you might want to address in this essay include:

  • Talk about the road someone faces if they become disabled while serving overseas. What is it like for people to apply for benefits through the Veterans’ Administration?
  • Discuss what happens if someone becomes disabled while at work. What is it like for someone to pursue disability benefits if they are hurt doing a blue-collar job instead of a desk job?
  • Research and discuss the experiences of disabled people and how their disability impacts their financial situation.

People who are disabled need to have money to survive for many reasons, such as the inability to work, limitations at home, and medical expenses. A lack of money, in this situation, can lead to a dangerous cycle that can make it hard for someone to be financially stable and live a comfortable lifestyle.

Many people talk about the cycle of poverty, yet many aren’t entirely sure what this means or what it entails. A few key points you should address in this essay include:

  • When someone is born into poverty, income inequality can make it hard to get an education.
  • A lack of education makes it hard for someone to get into a good school, which gives them the foundation they need to compete for a good job. 
  • A lack of money can make it hard for someone to afford college, even if they get into a good school.
  • Without attending a good college, it can be hard for someone to get a good job. This makes it hard for someone to support themselves or their families. 
  • Without a good paycheck, it is nearly impossible for someone to keep their children out of poverty, limiting upward mobility into the middle class.

The problem of poverty is a positive feedback loop. It can be nearly impossible for those who live this every day to escape. Therefore, you might want to explore a few initiatives that could break the cycle of world poverty and explore other measures that could break this feedback loop.

Many business people and politicians have floated the idea of a universal basic income to give people the basic resources they need to survive. While this hasn’t gotten a lot of serious traction, you could write an essay to shed light on this idea. A few points to hit on include:

  • What does a universal basic income mean, and how is it distributed?
  • Some people are concerned about the impact this would have on taxes. How would this be paid for?
  • What is the minimum amount of money someone would need to stay out of poverty? Is it different in different areas?
  • What are a few of the biggest reasons major world governments haven’t passed this?

This is one of the best essay examples because it gives you a lot of room to be creative. However, there hasn’t been a concrete structure for implementing this plan, so you might want to afford one.

Another interesting topic you might want to explore is interviewing someone living in poverty or who has been impoverished. While you can talk about statistics all day, they won’t be as powerful as interviewing someone who has lived that life. A few questions you might want to ask during your interview include:

  • What was it like growing up?
  • How has living in poverty made it hard for you to get a job?
  • What do you feel people misunderstand about those who live in poverty?
  • When you need to find a meal, do you have a place you go to? Or is it somewhere different every day?
  • What do you think is the main contributor to people living in poverty?

Remember that you can also craft different questions depending on your responses. You might want to let the interviewee read the essay when you are done to ensure all the information is accurate and correct.

The criminal justice system and poverty tend to go hand in hand. People with criminal records are more likely to be impoverished for several reasons. You might want to write an essay that hits on some of these points:

  • Discuss the discriminatory practices of the criminal justice system both as they relate to socioeconomic status and as they relate to race.
  • Explore just how hard it is for someone to get a job if they have a criminal record. Discuss how this might contribute to a life of poverty.
  • Dive into how this creates a positive feedback loop. For example, when someone cannot get a job due to a criminal record, they might have to steal to survive, which worsens the issue.
  • Review what the criminal justice system might be like for someone with resources when compared to someone who cannot afford to hire expert witnesses or pay for a good attorney.

You might want to include a few examples of disparate sentences for people in different socioeconomic situations to back up your points. 

The different ways to create affordable housing

Affordable housing can make a major difference when someone is trying to escape poverty

Many poverty-related problems could be reduced if people had access to affordable housing. While the cost of housing has increased dramatically in the United States , some initiatives exist to create affordable housing. Here are a few points to include:

  • Talk about public programs that offer affordable housing to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Discuss private programs, such as Habitat for Humanity , doing similar things.
  • Review the positive impacts that stable housing has on both adults and children.
  • Dive into other measures local and federal governments could take to provide more affordable housing for people.

There are a lot of political and social angles to address with this essay, so you might want to consider spreading this out across multiple papers. Affordable housing can make a major difference when trying to escape poverty. If you want to learn more, check out our essay writing tips !

what causes poverty essay

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What Causes Poverty in the World Report (Assessment)

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

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IvyPanda. (2023, November 24). What Causes Poverty in the World. https://ivypanda.com/essays/what-causes-poverty-in-the-world/

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  • Poverty and Its Impact on Global Health: Research Methodologies

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Essay on Causes of Poverty

Students are often asked to write an essay on Causes of Poverty in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Causes of Poverty


Poverty is a global issue affecting millions. It is a state where individuals lack adequate income to fulfil basic needs.

Cause 1: Lack of Education

Education is a powerful tool. Lack of it leads to fewer opportunities, resulting in poverty.

Cause 2: Unemployment

Unemployment is another major cause. Without jobs, people can’t earn a living, pushing them into poverty.

Cause 3: Economic Factors

Economic factors like inflation and recession can lead to poverty as they affect job and income stability.

Poverty is a complex problem with multiple causes. It’s crucial to address these to eradicate poverty.

250 Words Essay on Causes of Poverty

Poverty, a global issue that plagues millions, is deeply entrenched in societies worldwide. The causes of poverty are multifaceted, ranging from economic factors to social and political dynamics.

Economic Factors

One of the primary causes of poverty is economic inequality. This disparity arises from a lack of access to resources, opportunities, and capital. The global economy often favors the affluent, creating a vicious cycle where the rich get richer while the poor remain impoverished.

Political Instability

Political instability also plays a significant role in poverty. Countries with frequent conflicts, corruption, poor governance, and lack of rule of law often experience higher poverty rates. These conditions deter economic growth, limit access to resources, and disrupt societal structures.

Social Factors

Socio-cultural factors such as discrimination, lack of education, and social exclusion also contribute to poverty. Marginalized groups often face discriminatory practices that prevent them from accessing opportunities for economic advancement. Lack of education further limits their ability to escape poverty, as it reduces their chances of securing well-paying jobs.

Environmental Causes

Lastly, environmental factors like climate change and natural disasters exacerbate poverty. They disrupt livelihoods, particularly in agrarian societies, leading to food insecurity and displacement, which in turn perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

In conclusion, poverty is a complex issue, influenced by a myriad of factors. Addressing poverty requires a comprehensive approach that tackles economic disparities, political instability, social inequalities, and environmental challenges. By understanding these causes, we can devise effective strategies to combat poverty and foster sustainable development.

500 Words Essay on Causes of Poverty

Poverty, a global issue, is the state of being extremely poor. It is a multifaceted concept that includes social, economic, and political elements. Understanding the causes of poverty is essential to address this issue effectively. This essay will explore some of the significant causes of poverty.

One of the primary causes of poverty is economic inequality. The unequal distribution of wealth, often driven by the structure of an economic system, results in a significant portion of the population living in poverty. This disparity is often seen in both developing and developed countries.

Structural unemployment, another economic factor, is a form of unemployment where there is a mismatch between the skills of the unemployed and the skills needed for available jobs. This type of unemployment, often long-term, can lead to poverty.

Social factors, such as lack of education and high rates of illiteracy, are significant contributors to poverty. Education is a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty, but those in impoverished conditions often lack access to quality education.

Moreover, societal structures and discrimination can perpetuate poverty. Discrimination based on race, gender, religion, or caste can limit individuals’ opportunities and push them into poverty.

Political Factors

Political instability and corruption can also lead to poverty. Countries with unstable governments often cannot provide basic services to their citizens, leading to poverty. Corruption diverts resources away from those who need them the most, exacerbating poverty levels.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors, such as climate change and natural disasters, can also contribute to poverty. These factors can destroy livelihoods and homes, pushing people into poverty. Moreover, those living in poverty often lack the resources to recover from such events.

In conclusion, poverty is a complex issue caused by a combination of economic, social, political, and environmental factors. Addressing poverty requires a multifaceted approach that considers all these factors. By understanding the causes of poverty, we can develop effective strategies to combat this global issue.

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Introduction to Poverty: Causes, Effects, and Management

  • Categories: Homelessness Hunger Poverty in America

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Published: May 17, 2022

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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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Essay on Poverty: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

Poverty is an international problem that affects many people. It means not having enough money for basic things like food, housing, and healthcare. Poverty also has serious consequences for individuals and communities. In this essay on poverty, we will examine the causes, effects, and possible solutions to poverty. Understanding poverty better will enable us to create a more equal society where everyone can live happily.


Table of Contents

  • 1 Introduction to Poverty Essay
  • 2.1 Economic Inequality
  • 2.2 Political Instability
  • 2.3 Discrimination
  • 2.4 Lack of Education or Training
  • 2.5 Health Issues or Disabilities
  • 2.6 Limited Access to Affordable Housing
  • 2.7 Globalization And Trade Policies
  • 2.8 Environmental Factors
  • 2.9 Income Inequality
  • 3.1 Short-term Effects of Poverty
  • 3.2 Long-term Effects of Poverty
  • 4.1 Training and Education
  • 4.2 Microfinance
  • 4.3 Healthcare
  • 4.4 Basic Income
  • 4.5 Affordable Housing
  • 4.6 Food Assistance
  • 4.7 Progressive Taxation
  • 4.8 Community Development
  • 5 Conclusion of Poverty Essay

Introduction to Poverty Essay

A person who is in poverty is one who lacks basic necessities like food, shelter, and clothing. It’s a complex, broad issue that affects millions of people worldwide. But poverty isn’t just a lack of material resources; it’s also a range of social, economic, and political factors that limit an individual’s freedom.

A person in poverty may experience poor health outcomes, limited access to education, higher crime rates, and social exclusion. Poverty impacts society as a whole as well, including lower economic productivity, higher healthcare costs, and increased social inequality.

In many cases, poverty is tied to other forms of inequality, like racism, sexism, and disability discrimination. These overlapping factors make it difficult for individuals and communities to break out of poverty. Even though poverty has been combated for decades, it remains a big problem everywhere. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it worse, pushing millions of people into poverty.

In order to solve poverty, it’s important to understand its root causes and effects of poverty and develop effective strategies.

Also Read: Essay On Motivation In Life.

Causes of Poverty: Examining Systemic and Individual Factors Contributing to Poverty


Economic Inequality

The presence of large amounts of wealth in the hands of a few individuals or groups can limit the access of those who are not as fortunate to have access to resources and opportunities. For example, families with low incomes may not be able to afford the same quality of education as wealthy ones, thus limiting their future opportunities.

Political Instability

A country with an unstable political climate may have limited access to basic services such as healthcare and education, leading to higher poverty rates. According to the World Bank, 8% of the global population, or 648 million people , live in extreme poverty.


Access to resources and opportunities can be limited by societal barriers like race, gender, sexuality, or ability. These kinds of barriers can be seen in education, employment, housing, and healthcare. They create an unequal playing field, where some have access to resources, while others are unfairly excluded. Due to this, disadvantaged people are unable to break out of poverty.

Lack of Education or Training

It is a major cause of poverty. When people don’t have access to appropriate education or vocational training, they often can’t get well-paying jobs or find employment at all. Without education, it’s hard for individuals to escape poverty because they lack the skills and knowledge needed to secure better opportunities.

Health Issues or Disabilities

Individuals with health issues or disabilities may be unable to work or earn a stable income due to health issues or disabilities. Healthcare costs can quickly increase, putting individuals under financial burden. Also, individuals who suffer from health challenges may have difficulty finding and maintaining employment due to limited physical or cognitive abilities. Lack of access to healthcare and preventative services worsens the problem. Health issues and disabilities impact economic stability and basic needs, creating a continuous cycle of poverty.

Limited Access to Affordable Housing

When people cannot find affordable housing, they must spend a large portion of their income on housing, leaving them with only a minimal amount of money to spend on other basic necessities. This problem is caused by factors such as high prices, limited availability, and discriminatory practices, which lead to overcrowded and unhealthy living conditions, evictions, and homelessness.

Globalization And Trade Policies

Globalization and trade policies can lead to poverty for several reasons. When countries engage in globalization and trade, local industries can suffer because they are unable to compete with foreign companies. It can result in job losses and the loss of economic diversity within the country.

Also, trade policies that do not properly regulate cheap goods can negatively impact developing countries. If powerful nations favor these goods, it can lead to overdependence on imports, further diminishing local industries and job opportunities. Also, trade agreements may prioritize the export of raw materials rather than encouraging the development of industries that add more value to these resources.

Developing countries also face challenges related to technology, medicine, and labor standards. Limited access to advanced technologies and essential medicines can interfere with their development. Also, outsourcing production to countries with lower labor standards can lead to low compensations and poor working conditions for workers in developing countries.

In short, trade policies that prioritize profit over people can lead to job loss and lower wages, contributing to poverty in both developed and developing countries.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors also cause poverty. There are also natural disasters like droughts and floods that destroy livelihoods and limit access to resources like fertile land and water. Rising temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns have also been linked to climate change, which affects both agriculture and low-income communities. Deforestation and pollution further damage people’s health by reducing access to resources. Polluted areas or toxic waste dumps further worsen the situation for underprivileged communities.

Income Inequality

Income inequality is one of the key causes of poverty. Poverty occurs when there is an imbalance in the distribution of income within a society, with some holding large amounts of wealth while the majority struggles with low incomes. There are several factors that can contribute to inequality, including unequal access to education, a lack of employment opportunities, as well as unfair economic policies. It contributes to a cycle of poverty by preventing people from getting decent salaries, accessing essential resources, and improving their overall living conditions, thus widening the wealth gap.

Also Read: Should Teenagers Have a Part Time Job Essay.

Effects of Poverty: Short Term and Long Term

Individuals in poverty lack the resources they need to meet their basic needs. Here in this poverty essay, we will analyze the short-term and long-term effects of poverty.


Short-term Effects of Poverty

  • Malnutrition: Poverty leads to a lack of access to nutritious food, resulting in malnutrition, which can cause inadequate growth, weakened immune systems, and other health problems.
  • Poor Health: People living in poverty often lack access to healthcare and basic hygiene, leading to an increased risk of diseases and poor health outcomes.
  • Lower Educational Achievement: Children living in poverty often lack access to quality education, leading to lower levels of education, which can have negative effects on future employment opportunities and earning capacity.
  • Increased Crime Rates : The higher the level of poverty is, the more likely it is that people will become dependent on committing crimes in order to meet the basic needs of their families.
  • Psychological Distress: Poverty can also cause psychological distress, including feelings of shame, anxiety, and depression.

Long-term Effects of Poverty

  • Reduced Earning Potential: Poverty often results in lower education levels and limited opportunities for individuals growing up in poverty. A poverty-stricken individual may not have the same level of education or opportunities as an individual who grows up in a wealthy neighborhood.
  • Poor Health Outcomes: People suffering from poverty over the long term are more likely to suffer from poorer health outcomes, including a higher rate of chronic diseases and illnesses.
  • Intergenerational Poverty: There is a possibility that poverty may be passed from one generation to the next, thus creating a cycle of poverty that can be difficult to break.
  • Limited Social Mobility : In some cases, poverty limits social mobility and makes it challenging for individuals and families to make progress on the road to economic success and achieve greater economic stability as a result of poverty.
  • Reduced Community Development: When a community is poor, it often faces barriers to development due to the lack of available resources and opportunities for growth.

Also Read: What Does It Mean to Be Human Essay.

Effective Strategies and Solutions to Poverty

There are various potential solutions and interventions to reduce poverty, ranging from short-term emergency relief to long-term structural changes. Here are some solutions to poverty:


Training and Education

Training and education are vital strategies for addressing poverty. Providing people with the skills and knowledge they need can increase their chances of finding a job and earning a living. Investing in educational opportunities, including vocational training and job-specific skills development, can empower individuals to break the poverty cycle.

Also, financial awareness and entrepreneurship education can give people the tools to manage their finances effectively and earn money. We can help individuals improve their lives and contribute to the economic development of their communities by investing in training and education.


Microfinance is an effective strategy and solution for poverty that offers small loans and financial services to people who don’t have access to traditional banks. It allows low-income people to earn income and improve their lives by starting or expanding their own small businesses.

A microfinance institution also provides borrowers with financial education and support, allowing them to develop good financial habits and manage their resources effectively. By providing microfinance to people, they will have the opportunity to break out of poverty and become self-sufficient, and this plays a vital role in uplifting their communities and giving them hope for the future.

Health care plays an important role in addressing poverty by providing effective strategies and solutions. Providing accessible and affordable healthcare services is essential to improving personal well-being and combating poverty.

As a society, we are responsible for making sure everyone has access to quality healthcare, including preventive care, diagnostics, treatments, and medications, so that our people can stay healthy, pursue education, and find employment.

Also, healthcare initiatives that focus on the promotion of health education and disease prevention can help individuals and communities make informed decisions about their health, thereby reducing poverty in the long run.

Basic Income

The basic income program is meant to provide individuals with a regular, unconditional source of income to cover all of their basic needs, regardless of whether or not they work. Along with reducing poverty, this can also provide a safety net for people with disabilities or other reasons who cannot work.

Affordable Housing

Providing affordable housing is a key way to fight poverty and ensure everyone has a place to live. This involves developing affordable housing options for low-income families. People and families can pay for other necessities like food and health care if housing is more cost-effective.

Also, this approach prevents housing insecurity and lowers housing costs, which gives people the opportunity to get quality education and a job. Housing for everyone can be achieved through a range of measures, including government subsidies, rent control, and partnerships with non-profits.

Food Assistance

Food assistance is critical for fighting poverty. It helps people and families who can’t afford nutritious food. It can come in the form of food banks, government programs, or community initiatives. The benefits of food assistance include reducing hunger, improving health outcomes, and enabling students to pursue education, jobs, and other opportunities. The goal of food assistance is to reduce poverty by addressing one of the most fundamental needs of individuals.

Progressive Taxation

Progressive taxation is an effective strategy and solution to poverty that involves taxing individuals and businesses based on their income or wealth. With a progressive tax system, people with higher incomes or more wealth pay more in taxes, while people with lower incomes pay less. Through this approach, appropriate wealth will be redistributed and income inequality will be reduced, giving the government more money to invest in programs that help people out of poverty.

Community Development

The goal of community development is to empower and improve the lives of individuals within a community thereby reducing poverty. The main objective is to identify and address the root causes of poverty, such as limited access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities, by bringing together community members, organizations, and resources.

A key objective of community development is to uplift and break the cycle of poverty by actively involving the community in decision-making processes, increasing collaboration, and implementing sustainable initiatives. By using this approach, communities can become more self-sufficient, adaptable, and equipped with the tools and support they need in order to overcome poverty and improve their overall well-being.

Also Read: Can A Person Choose to Be Happy Essay.

Conclusion of Poverty Essay

Poverty is a pressing global issue with severe consequences for individuals and societies. Several factors contribute to this problem, including limited access to education, limited resources, unemployment, and unequal distribution of wealth. The effects of poverty can be seen in the form of inadequate healthcare, malnutrition, crime, and instability in society. As a way to combat this problem, we should create jobs and start businesses, improve access to essential necessities like water and healthcare, and create social safety nets. If we address the root causes and implement sustainable solutions, we can make our society more balanced and economically successful.

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The Impact of Population Growth on Well-being in Developing Countries pp 219–258 Cite as

Population Growth and Poverty

  • Dennis A. Ahlburg 4  

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11 Citations

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Part of the book series: Population Economics ((POPULATION))

This chapter presents estimates of the number of people in poverty and changes over time in the number of people in poverty, identifies factors that are related to poverty, and evaluates the role that population growth plays in determining poverty. Attention is paid to both the standard definition of poverty and to the broader concept of well-being. Little direct evidence on the impact of population growth exists. Indirect evidence, however, suggests some possible links. First, rapid population growth is likely to reduce per capita income growth and well-being, which tends to increase poverty. Second, in densely populated poor nations with pressure on land, rapid population growth increases landlessness and hence the incidence of poverty. Finally, the adverse effects of rapid population growth on child health, and possibly on education, will likely increase poverty in the next generation. While the direction of the impact of these links is reasonably clear, whether they have a quantitatively important impact on poverty (conventionally measured) is unclear. What is clear, however, is that reduction of poverty is most likely to occur by direct interventions. Constraining population growth represents an indirect policy that probably will not have a particularly large independent impact on poverty reduction in the short-run, especially vis-a vis a host of alternative poverty alleviation policies.

  • Population Growth
  • Family Size
  • Income Inequality
  • Poverty Line
  • Human Development Index

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

The author has benefitted from discussions with Allen Kelley, Robert Cassen, Dick Easterlin and Martin Ravallion. Comments from Allen Kelley, Robert Cassen, Ragui Assaad, Jere Behrman, Tim Dyson, Sandy Korenman, David Lam, Deborah Levison, Cynthia Lloyd, and Vern Ruttan are gratefully acknowledged. This paper is a revised and expanded version of Ahlburg (1994).

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Ahlburg, D.A. (1996). Population Growth and Poverty. In: Ahlburg, D.A., Kelley, A.C., Mason, K.O. (eds) The Impact of Population Growth on Well-being in Developing Countries. Population Economics. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-03239-8_7

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Indian History, Festivals, Essays, Paragraphs, Speeches.

Poverty: Essay on Causes, Effects and Solutions of Poverty

Category: Essays and Paragraphs On November 22, 2018 By Mary


Poverty is basically the state of being poor. It is a concept subject to perspective. Poverty refers to the state where the number of poor people is by far more than that of the people who can actually afford a decent lifestyle. In this case therefore, most of the residents of that particular setting are normally struggling to make a living and even secure a meal and for this reason, the living standards and conditions in a poverty ridden place are not desirable.

Poverty is caused by factors such as changing trends in the economy, lack of education in a country, high rates of separation, overpopulation, culture, disease and environmental issues like absence of rain and calamities. These factors therefore make it impossible for a person to afford an ordinary living pattern.

Causes of poverty

  • Poverty is caused by corruption where a few individuals in power are so greedy that they steal public finances and therefore deny the public finances meant to make their living standards better.
  • Misappropriation of funds is another cause where finances are misused or used in the wrong way and therefore leaving the important projects at bay.
  • Foreign dominance of the economy is also a cause where the foreigners take over and therefore are the only ones who amass wealth for themselves, leaving the local people in worse conditions than they found them.
  • Debt is another cause as it denies growth in the sense that finances earned are channeled towards repaying the debt.

Effects of Poverty

  • Poverty makes it impossible for people to seek medical assistance or to even access to any form of medication hence poor health .
  • Poverty also causes lack of education . This is because education can sometimes be very demanding financially in terms of school fees, reading and writing materials and also school uniforms.
  • Poverty causes stress . Poor individuals report much more stress cases than middle-class families.
  • Poverty is the main cause of elevated levels of dependence. Poor people tend to depend on their family members or the government to get financial aid.
  • Poverty also leads to hunger and malnutrition . This is due to the inability to afford good food or no food at all. This may contribute to slow development in children.
  • Poverty also contributes to increased levels of corruption . Poor people in desperate need for jobs also result to bribing to get jobs.
  • Poverty can also affect a country in terms of low GDP. This is because poor people have no means of becoming productive. They instead depend on others for their needs which reduces the country’s productivity.
  • Poverty is the main cause for the rise of street children and street families. Since one cannot afford good housing without money, they result to staying in the streets and beg for food and money.
  • Poverty has led to the development of slum housing in urban areas. These are cheap houses that people with little or no income love in. This type of housing is bad due to high chances of spread of diseases.

Solutions to poverty

  • Fighting corruption is the principle way to fight corruption with the aim of eliminating the very ideals that cause poverty.
  • Proper utilization of funds can also help fight poverty and provide and actual solution as it makes good for proper planning.
  • Avoiding debt is a life principle that can reduce chances of poverty because the finances earned thereafter can be geared towards personal development for an individual or their country.
  • Reducing foreign dominance on the economy is also another way as it helps ensure that the local people profit from what is rightfully their own.

Poverty is the major cause of lack of development in any country. It is therefore the obligation of every government to try and improve the living standards and conditions of its people by providing employment opportunities and other means by which people can earn money and provide for their families.

Hence, poverty is a situation in life that has to be fought by all means necessary not only by the government but by individuals as well.

By Mary (edited)

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The Philippines economy in 2024: Stronger for longer?

The Philippines ended 2023 on a high note, being the fastest growing economy across Southeast Asia with a growth rate of 5.6 percent—just shy of the government's target of 6.0 to 7.0 percent. 1 “National accounts,” Philippine Statistics Authority, January 31, 2024; "Philippine economic updates,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, November 16, 2023. Should projections hold, the Philippines is expected to, once again, show significant growth in 2024, demonstrating its resilience despite various global economic pressures (Exhibit 1). 2 “Economic forecast 2024,” International Monetary Fund, November 1, 2023; McKinsey analysis.

The growth in the Philippine economy in 2023 was driven by a resumption in commercial activities, public infrastructure spending, and growth in digital financial services. Most sectors grew, with transportation and storage (13 percent), construction (9 percent), and financial services (9 percent), performing the best (Exhibit 2). 3 “National accounts,” Philippine Statistics Authority, January 31, 2024. While the country's trade deficit narrowed in 2023, it remains elevated at $52 billion due to slowing global demand and geopolitical uncertainties. 4 “Highlights of the Philippine export and import statistics,” Philippine Statistics Authority, January 28, 2024. Looking ahead to 2024, the current economic forecast for the Philippines projects a GDP growth of between 5 and 6 percent.

Inflation rates are expected to temper between 3.2 and 3.6 percent in 2024 after ending 2023 at 6.0 percent, above the 2.0 to 4.0 percent target range set by the government. 5 “Nomura downgrades Philippine 2024 growth forecast,” Nomura, September 11, 2023; “IMF raises Philippine growth rate forecast,” International Monetary Fund, July 16, 2023.

For the purposes of this article, most of the statistics used for our analysis have come from a common thread of sources. These include the Central Bank of the Philippines (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas); the Department of Energy Philippines; the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP); and the Philippines Statistics Authority.

The state of the Philippine economy across seven major sectors and themes

In the article, we explore the 2024 outlook for seven key sectors and themes, what may affect each of them in the coming year, and what could potentially unlock continued growth.

Financial services

The recovery of the financial services sector appears on track as year-on-year growth rates stabilize. 6 Philippines Statistics Authority, November 2023; McKinsey in partnership with Oxford Economics, November 2023. In 2024, this sector will likely continue to grow, though at a slower pace of about 5 percent.

Financial inclusion and digitalization are contributing to growth in this sector in 2024, even if new challenges emerge. Various factors are expected to impact this sector:

  • Inclusive finance: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas continues to invest in financial inclusion initiatives. For example, basic deposit accounts (BDAs) reached $22 million in 2023 and banking penetration improved, with the proportion of adults with formal bank accounts increasing from 29 percent in 2019 to 56 percent in 2021. 7 “Financial inclusion dashboard: First quarter 2023,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, February 6, 2024.
  • Digital adoption: Digital channels are expected to continue to grow, with data showing that 60 percent of adults who have a mobile phone and internet access have done a digital financial transaction. 8 “Financial inclusion dashboard: First quarter 2023,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, February 6, 2024. Businesses in this sector, however, will need to remain vigilant in navigating cybersecurity and fraud risks.
  • Unsecured lending growth: Growth in unsecured lending is expected to continue, but at a slower pace than the past two to three years. For example, unsecured retail lending for the banking system alone grew by 27 percent annually from 2020 to 2022. 9 “Loan accounts: As of first quarter 2023,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, February 6, 2024; "Global banking pools,” McKinsey, November 2023. Businesses in this field are, however, expected to recalibrate their risk profiling models as segments with high nonperforming loans emerge.
  • High interest rates: Key interest rates are expected to decline in the second half of 2024, creating more accommodating borrowing conditions that could boost wholesale and corporate loans.

Supportive frameworks have a pivotal role to play in unlocking growth in this sector to meet the ever-increasing demand from the financially underserved. For example, financial literacy programs and easier-to-access accounts—such as BDAs—are some measures that can help widen market access to financial services. Continued efforts are being made to build an open finance framework that could serve the needs of the unbanked population, as well as a unified credit scoring mechanism to increase the ability of historically under-financed segments, such as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to access formal credit. 10 “BSP launches credit scoring model,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, April 26, 2023.

Energy and Power

The outlook for the energy sector seems positive, with the potential to grow by 7 percent in 2024 as the country focuses on renewable energy generation. 11 McKinsey analysis based on input from industry experts. Currently, stakeholders are focused on increasing energy security, particularly on importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet power plants’ requirements as production in one of the country’s main sources of natural gas, the Malampaya gas field, declines. 12 Myrna M. Velasco, “Malampaya gas field prod’n declines steeply in 2021,” Manila Bulletin , July 9, 2022. High global inflation and the fact that the Philippines is a net fuel importer are impacting electricity prices and the build-out of planned renewable energy projects. Recent regulatory moves to remove foreign ownership limits on exploration, development, and utilization of renewable energy resources could possibly accelerate growth in the country’s energy and power sector. 13 “RA 11659,” Department of Energy Philippines, June 8, 2023.

Gas, renewables, and transmission are potential growth drivers for the sector. Upgrading power grids so that they become more flexible and better able to cope with the intermittent electricity supply that comes with renewables will be critical as the sector pivots toward renewable energy. A recent coal moratorium may position natural gas as a transition fuel—this could stimulate exploration and production investments for new, indigenous natural gas fields, gas pipeline infrastructure, and LNG import terminal projects. 14 Philippine energy plan 2020–2040, Department of Energy Philippines, June 10, 2022; Power development plan 2020–2040 , Department of Energy Philippines, 2021. The increasing momentum of green energy auctions could facilitate the development of renewables at scale, as the country targets 35 percent share of renewables by 2030. 15 Power development plan 2020–2040 , 2022.

Growth in the healthcare industry may slow to 2.8 percent in 2024, while pharmaceuticals manufacturing is expected to rebound with 5.2 percent growth in 2024. 16 McKinsey analysis in partnership with Oxford Economics.

Healthcare demand could grow, although the quality of care may be strained as the health worker shortage is projected to increase over the next five years. 17 McKinsey analysis. The supply-and-demand gap in nursing alone is forecast to reach a shortage of approximately 90,000 nurses by 2028. 18 McKinsey analysis. Another compounding factor straining healthcare is the higher than anticipated benefit utilization and rising healthcare costs, which, while helping to meet people's healthcare budgets, may continue to drive down profitability for health insurers.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies are feeling varying effects of people becoming increasingly health conscious. Consumers are using more over the counter (OTC) medication and placing more beneficial value on organic health products, such as vitamins and supplements made from natural ingredients, which could impact demand for prescription drugs. 19 “Consumer health in the Philippines 2023,” Euromonitor, October 2023.

Businesses operating in this field may end up benefiting from universal healthcare policies. If initiatives are implemented that integrate healthcare systems, rationalize copayments, attract and retain talent, and incentivize investments, they could potentially help to strengthen healthcare provision and quality.

Businesses may also need to navigate an increasingly complex landscape of diverse health needs, digitization, and price controls. Digital and data transformations are being seen to facilitate improvements in healthcare delivery and access, with leading digital health apps getting more than one million downloads. 20 Google Play Store, September 27, 2023. Digitization may create an opportunity to develop healthcare ecosystems that unify touchpoints along the patient journey and provide offline-to-online care, as well as potentially realizing cost efficiencies.

Consumer and retail

Growth in the retail and wholesale trade and consumer goods sectors is projected to remain stable in 2024, at 4 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

Inflation, however, continues to put consumers under pressure. While inflation rates may fall—predicted to reach 4 percent in 2024—commodity prices may still remain elevated in the near term, a top concern for Filipinos. 21 “IMF raises Philippine growth forecast,” July 26, 2023; “Nomura downgrades Philippines 2024 growth forecast,” September 11, 2023. In response to challenging economic conditions, 92 percent of consumers have changed their shopping behaviors, and approximately 50 percent indicate that they are switching brands or retail providers in seek of promotions and better prices. 22 “Philippines consumer pulse survey, 2023,” McKinsey, November 2023.

Online shopping has become entrenched in Filipino consumers, as they find that they get access to a wider range of products, can compare prices more easily, and can shop with more convenience. For example, a McKinsey Philippines consumer sentiment survey in 2023 found that 80 percent of respondents, on average, use online and omnichannel to purchase footwear, toys, baby supplies, apparel, and accessories. To capture the opportunity that this shift in Filipino consumer preferences brings and to unlock growth in this sector, retail organizations could turn to omnichannel strategies to seamlessly integrate online and offline channels. Businesses may need to explore investments that increase resilience across the supply chain, alongside researching and developing new products that serve emerging consumer preferences, such as that for natural ingredients and sustainable sources.


Manufacturing is a key contributor to the Philippine economy, contributing approximately 19 percent of GDP in 2022, employing about 7 percent of the country’s labor force, and growing in line with GDP at approximately 6 percent between 2023 and 2024. 23 McKinsey analysis based on input from industry experts.

Some changes could be seen in 2024 that might affect the sector moving forward. The focus toward building resilient supply chains and increasing self-sufficiency is growing. The Philippines also is likely to benefit from increasing regional trade, as well as the emerging trend of nearshoring or onshoring as countries seek to make their supply chains more resilient. With semiconductors driving approximately 45 percent of Philippine exports, the transfer of knowledge and technology, as well as the development of STEM capabilities, could help attract investments into the sector and increase the relevance of the country as a manufacturing hub. 24 McKinsey analysis based on input from industry experts.

To secure growth, public and private sector support could bolster investments in R&D and upskill the labor force. In addition, strategies to attract investment may be integral to the further development of supply chain infrastructure and manufacturing bases. Government programs to enable digital transformation and R&D, along with a strategic approach to upskilling the labor force, could help boost industry innovation in line with Industry 4.0 demand. 25 Industry 4.0 is also referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Priority products to which manufacturing industries could pivot include more complex, higher value chain electronic components in the semiconductor segment; generic OTC drugs and nature-based pharmaceuticals in the pharmaceutical sector; and, for green industries, products such as EVs, batteries, solar panels, and biomass production.

Information technology business process outsourcing

The information technology business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) sector is on track to reach its long-term targets, with $38 billion in forecast revenues in 2024. 26 Khriscielle Yalao, “WHF flexibility key to achieving growth targets—IBPAP,” Manila Bulletin , January 23, 2024. Emerging innovations in service delivery and work models are being observed, which could drive further growth in the sector.

The industry continues to outperform headcount and revenue targets, shaping its position as a country leader for employment and services. 27 McKinsey analysis based in input from industry experts. Demand from global companies for offshoring is expected to increase, due to cost containment strategies and preference for Philippine IT-BPO providers. New work setups continue to emerge, ranging from remote-first to office-first, which could translate to potential net benefits. These include a 10 to 30 percent increase in employee retention; a three- to four-hour reduction in commute times; an increase in enabled talent of 350,000; and a potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 1.4 to 1.5 million tons of CO 2 per year. 28 McKinsey analysis based in input from industry experts. It is becoming increasingly more important that the IT-BPO sector adapts to new technologies as businesses begin to harness automation and generative AI (gen AI) to unlock productivity.

Talent and technology are clear areas where growth in this sector can be unlocked. The growing complexity of offshoring requirements necessitates building a proper talent hub to help bridge employee gaps and better match local talent to employers’ needs. Businesses in the industry could explore developing facilities and digital infrastructure to enable industry expansion outside the metros, especially in future “digital cities” nationwide. Introducing new service areas could capture latent demand from existing clients with evolving needs as well as unserved clients. BPO centers could explore the potential of offering higher-value services by cultivating technology-focused capabilities, such as using gen AI to unlock revenue, deliver sales excellence, and reduce general administrative costs.


The Philippines is considered to be the fourth most vulnerable country to climate change in the world as, due to its geographic location, the country has a higher risk of exposure to natural disasters, such as rising sea levels. 29 “The Philippines has been ranked the fourth most vulnerable country to climate change,” Global Climate Risk Index, January 2021. Approximately $3.2 billion, on average, in economic loss could occur annually because of natural disasters over the next five decades, translating to up to 7 to 8 percent of the country’s nominal GDP. 30 “The Philippines has been ranked the fourth most vulnerable country to climate change,” Global Climate Risk Index, January 2021.

The Philippines could capitalize on five green growth opportunities to operate in global value chains and catalyze growth for the nation:

  • Renewable energy: The country could aim to generate 50 percent of its energy from renewables by 2040, building on its high renewable energy potential and the declining cost of producing renewable energy.
  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing: More than a twofold increase in annual output from 2023 to 2030 could be achieved, enabled by lower production costs.
  • Battery production: The Philippines could aim for a $1.5 billion domestic market by 2030, capitalizing on its vast nickel reserves (the second largest globally). 31 “MineSpans,” McKinsey, November 2023.
  • Electric mobility: Electric vehicles could account for 15 percent of the country’s vehicle sales by 2030 (from less than 1 percent currently), driven by incentives, local distribution, and charging infrastructure. 32 McKinsey analysis based on input from industry experts.
  • Nature-based solutions: The country’s largely untapped total abatement potential could reach up to 200 to 300 metric tons of CO 2 , enabled by its biodiversity and strong demand.

The Philippine economy: Three scenarios for growth

Having grown faster than other economies in Southeast Asia in 2023 to end the year with 5.6 percent growth, the Philippines can expect a similarly healthy growth outlook for 2024. Based on our analysis, there are three potential scenarios for the country’s growth. 33 McKinsey analysis in partnership with Oxford Economics.

Slower growth: The first scenario projects GDP growth of 4.8 percent if there are challenging conditions—such as declining trade and accelerated inflation—which could keep key policy rates high at about 6.5 percent and dampen private consumption, leading to slower long-term growth.

Soft landing: The second scenario projects GDP growth of 5.2 percent if inflation moderates and global conditions turn out to be largely favorable due to a stable investment environment and regional trade demand.

Accelerated growth: In the third scenario, GDP growth is projected to reach 6.1 percent if inflation slows and public policies accommodate aspects such as loosening key policy rates and offering incentive programs to boost productivity.

Focusing on factors that could unlock growth in its seven critical sectors and themes, while adapting to the macro-economic scenario that plays out, would allow the Philippines to materialize its growth potential in 2024 and take steps towards achieving longer-term, sustainable economic growth.

Jon Canto is a partner in McKinsey’s Manila office, where Frauke Renz is an associate partner, and Vicah Villanueva is a consultant.

The authors wish to thank Charlene Chua, Charlie del Rosario, Ryan delos Reyes, Debadrita Dhara, Evelyn C. Fong, Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, Frances Lee, Aaron Ong, and Liane Tan for their contributions to this article.

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    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 ...

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    Causes of Poverty. If you look at poverty essay titles, the causes of poverty are a popular theme among students. While some people may think that poverty occurs because people are lazy and don't want to work hard, the problem is much more important than that. Research books and scholarly journal articles on the subject with these questions ...

  6. Causes of Poverty: Essay Sample

    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.

  7. Poverty: The Main Causes and Factors

    These include the disabled, pensioners, people with a high incidence of disease, and those with a large number of dependents. Thus, the cause of poverty is a person's belonging to these groups. The political reasons also include a high level of state corruption, leading to an unfair allocation of resources.

  8. Poverty: Causes and Solutions to Problem

    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).

  9. 7 Essays About Poverty: Example Essays And Prompts

    10 Poverty Essay Topics. If you're tasked with writing an essay about poverty, consider using the below topics. They offer pointers for outlining and planning an essay about this challenging topic. 1. The Causes of Poverty. One of the most specific poverty essay topics to address involves the causes of poverty.

  10. The Causes of Poverty

    The Causes of Poverty. This paper is an inquiry into the causes of poverty. By poverty we mean a circumstance of serious deprivation where a person lacks one or more basic need—as opposed to a condition of inequality. The question we wish to try to answer is this: Why do some people find themselves in a circumstance of serious deprivation and ...

  11. What causes poverty in the world

    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.

  12. Poverty: Its Causes and Solutions

    Abstract Poverty is a multi-facet phenomenon in today s globalised world. It is rooted in various causes and there are also multiple ways to do away with it. This paper begins with a review on the definitions and measurement of poverty and followed by discussing the various causes of poverty. This paper specifically

  13. PDF The Causes of Poverty

    pal causes of and solutions to poverty. It lays out a plan of action that is broadly similar to the Sawhill-Haskins proposals and clearly implies that behavioural factors (i.e., choices) are the primary cause of poverty and that with the right policies and incentives as well as the expectation of personal responsibility, behaviours can change.

  14. Essay on Causes of Poverty

    500 Words Essay on Causes of Poverty Introduction. Poverty, a global issue, is the state of being extremely poor. It is a multifaceted concept that includes social, economic, and political elements. Understanding the causes of poverty is essential to address this issue effectively. This essay will explore some of the significant causes of poverty.

  15. Introduction to Poverty: Causes, Effects, and Management: [Essay

    Poverty brings the poor to low levels of health and education, lack of clean water and sanitation, inadequate physical security, lack of voice, and insufficient capacity and opportunity to better one's life. To discuss the issue of poverty, this essay analyzes global trends, causes, effects, and management of poverty.

  16. Essay on Poverty: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

    Poverty is an international problem that affects many people. It means not having enough money for basic things like food, housing, and healthcare. Poverty also has serious consequences for individuals and communities. In this essay on poverty, we will examine the causes, effects, and possible solutions to poverty.

  17. Effects of poverty, hunger and homelessness on children and youth

    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 ...

  18. Full article: Defining the characteristics of poverty and their

    The individual- and context-specific nature of poverty also influences the poverty analysis process. It helps poverty analysts to capture variations of the nature and severity of poverty according to age and gender as well as social, cultural, economic, political, environmental and spatial contexts. 3.4.

  19. Essay on Poverty

    With the help of this poverty essay, students will learn what poverty is, the leading causes of poverty, and the steps taken to eradicate poverty in India. The Poverty Line is the minimum spending (or income) required to meet a basic basket of goods and services. The number of people living below this line can use to calculate poverty.

  20. Population Growth and Poverty

    First, rapid population growth is likely to reduce per capita income growth and well-being, which tends to increase poverty. Second, in densely populated poor nations with pressure on land, rapid population growth increases landlessness and hence the incidence of poverty. Finally, the adverse effects of rapid population growth on child health ...

  21. Poverty: Essay on Causes, Effects and Solutions of Poverty

    Poverty is the main cause of elevated levels of dependence. Poor people tend to depend on their family members or the government to get financial aid. Poverty also leads to hunger and malnutrition. This is due to the inability to afford good food or no food at all. This may contribute to slow development in children.

  22. Causes of Poverty Essay

    The causes of poverty are innumerable, including overpopulation, lack of education, bad government, and countless more. People have a tendency to blame the poor for living in such state going back to the same causes time after time, but the global issue…. 751 Words.

  23. Essay On Poverty in India: Causes, Effects and Solutions

    1. Effect on Health - one of the most devastating effects that poverty has is on the overall health of the nation. The most prominent health issue stemming from poverty is malnutrition. The problem of malnutrition is widespread in all age-groups of the country but children are most adversely affected by this.

  24. The Philippines economy in 2024

    The Philippines ended 2023 on a high note, being the fastest growing economy across Southeast Asia with a growth rate of 5.6 percent—just shy of the government's target of 6.0 to 7.0 percent. 1 "National accounts," Philippine Statistics Authority, January 31, 2024; "Philippine economic updates," Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, November 16, 2023. ...