Poverty by Martin


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


history of Europe: Poverty
Though its extent might vary with current economic trends, poverty was a constant state. It is hard to define since material expectations…

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

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

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

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


Collective Poverty

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

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

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



About martinkinyua

Am martin a student in tigithi and am proud of being a member of the butterfly effect. Thank you Pamoja group.

2 Replies to “Poverty by Martin”

  1. Hey Martin,
    Poverty is a very important issue some countries face on a daily basis and I’m glad you are taking this opportunity to research this lasting problem. Honestly, I never knew there was different types of poverty and through your post, my eyes are being opened to the issues some people are suffering from. Perhaps in following research rounds, it would be beneficial to look into the reasons behind poverty and some solutions that could be implemented. Although this isn’t an overnight fix, any contribution to the cause can help and by educating others on the topic, you are on a successful path to making a difference. Anyways here are some websites for the future on reasons behind poverty and I wish you all the best in your next round.


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