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Poverty and Its Causes

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Poverty is a financial inability of an individual to meet all the basic needs. According to sociology, poverty can be defined as absolute and relative. Absolute poverty means lack of enough food and shelter, and relative poverty is an inability to meet one’s needs due to the low nation income.

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Poverty is an anti-developmental issue that discourages personal and societal growth. Poverty can have social, economic, and political causes.

Social Causes of Poverty

Overpopulation is an issue, where a high number of people exceed the available resources and space. Overpopulation usually results from the large population density, high birth rates or inadequate resources (Layard, Stewart, & Piachaud, 2009). A large population puts a lot of pressure on the available resources. Therefore, many people get nothing, which leads to poverty.

Uneven Resource Distribution

Low levels of technology and unskilled personnel of the developing countries lead to low production of the raw materials in their industries. Production of unessential raw materials leads to the inadequate distribution of resources in these countries. Thus, many countries end up lacking the needed resources, which leads to the low living standards in many families that lack basic necessities like food, clothes, and shelter (Layard et al., 2009).

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Illiteracy

In the poor developing countries, inadequate education and illiteracy are closely linked with the rise in the poverty levels. Because of the limited resources and unlimited wants, most governments of the developing economies cannot provide public social amenities including learning institutions, especially in the rural areas. As opposed to the children that live in the industrialized countries and have an adequate access to the  quality education, only six percent of children from the lower economic classes (like the Sub-Saharan Africa) have access to the elementary schooling (Lah, 2009; Layard et al., 2009). Because of poverty, children from the low income families opt for work to make ends meet at the expense of education. Besides, limited and unequal employment opportunities in the developing countries give a little reason for education.

Environmental Degradation

Environmental degradation and resource depletion is a major factor behind an increased poverty index, especially in the developing countries. Natural resources such as water, forests, minerals, and atmosphere are in danger. Environmental problems such as pollution have resulted into deterioration and shortage in food, essential resources, and shelter. Following the increased pressure and over-dependence on natural resources, the low income persons, who directly drive living from these resources, become even poorer as the resources get depleted (Lah, 2009).   

Economic Trends

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Rise in poverty levels, especially in the developing countries, can be explained by the modern economic trends. Competitive nature of the labor market keeps a close eye on the low skilled persons, who are able to offer their services at the prevailing wage rates. The labor market has moved from labor intensive to capital intensive, which is further characterized by the technical skills. In addition, rise in the income disparity and wage gap between the poor and the rich is one of the biggest causes of poverty (Layard et al., 2009). Control of resources by the higher income class limits the ability of the lower income class to break the “poverty shell”.

Demographic Shifts

Although demographic shifts are not commonly discussed in the twenty first century, they are partially blamed for the rise in the level of poverty. Children are the most affected group that has a restricted access to the resources. For instance, changes in the family structures and demographic patterns are characterized by the increased incidences of individualization and single-parenthood that limits financial ability of the single parents to adequately provide for their children (Lah, 2009). Failed political and social institutions are other potential causes of poverty.

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