General Question

nikipedia's avatar

What causes poverty?

Asked by nikipedia (27526points) April 25th, 2008

Do you think people who are extremely poor are lazy? Disadvantaged? Unlucky?

Do you think people can get out of poverty? How? Have you?

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17 Answers

soundedfury's avatar

Doesn’t it kind of demand a definition to work from? On the extreme side we’re talking about not being able to provide yourself with the essentials to life – shelter, food, water. On the more casual side it means living underneath a certain standard of living.

I spent age 17–20 living underneath the poverty line, but I never felt impoverished. I had food, an apartment and everything else I needed to survive. My standard of living certainly wasn’t what it is now, but it was workable. For me, it was simply a case of being ill-prepared for being unexpectedly expelled from my family.

trogdor_87's avatar

Rich people.

Bri_L's avatar

Great question. wow. Circumstances, family, luck, emotional conditions, societal and political trends.

wow that is a thinker.

wildflower's avatar

I think scale has to be considered. Are we talking an individual or household struggling to get by or poverty as an issue in society. The first can be anything from bad luck, lack of innovation or even laziness (rarely though). When its a widerspread poverty, I think it very much depends on the economical situation of that society (nation, region, city)

soundedfury's avatar

You can’t discount the role of mental and physical illness in poverty, as well.

dithibodeaux's avatar

I think for the most part…. it’s the choices we make in life that cause whether we stay in poverty.. I think a person can have bad luck, but to stay in poverty year after year…. I think that’s a choice we make.

LunaFemme's avatar

I think education, or lack of, has much to do with poverty. And I think education is part of the key to ending poverty.

That is my simple answer to an extremely complex problem.

sndfreQ's avatar

Going with trogdor’s answer and will add: lack of money.

jamms's avatar

lack of oppertunity. people in third worlds have not the same chance of recovery that the homeless in america do. if we are talking about strictly america I would like to second mental health as a cause.

scamp's avatar

Disability, and employer’s lack of understanding towards a person’s desire to work to the best of their abilities.

Substance abuse and other addictions.
Mental health, or lack thereof…oh wait, someone already said that.

Mangus's avatar

Poverty is a symptom. The condition is a social system that is not able to provide basic needs for all the people in it. This definition can include a wide variety of dynamics, including: lack of support/resources for the mentally ill; unequal distribution of resources based on lineage/cast/class; unequal distribution of resources justified by “competition and meritocracy” but actually dictated by power in political and economic classes, etc.

Most contemporary poverty is artificial, the result of inefficiency and poor social systems. Very few people are poor (lack basic needs: sustenance, basic healthcare, shelter etc.) because there isn’t enough to go around. Even in so-called poor or third-world countries, poverty is not because the country has no resources, but because the systems distributing them are broken by corruption, colonialism, and neo-colonialism.

AlexLavidge's avatar

“Poverty is a lack of options.”

The quote comes from Bridging the Class Divide which is one of my favorite books on the subject.

oddrax's avatar

bad government

ketoneus's avatar

I also think poverty is “infectious” to some degree. Many of those in poverty don’t want to see their cohorts – even their own children – climb out to a better life. I have a step-niece who is one of six children (from 3 different fathers) living in a single-wide trailer in east Texas. Her mother is a meth addict and resents any progress my niece makes to try and better herself.

I will echo earlier comments that education is the biggest factor. If parents do not value education, or if they discourage it, they often damning their kids to a life of poverty. I’ve seen it with my niece and I see it here in the neighborhoods of Baltimore.

LunaFemme's avatar

@alexlavidge—education gives you options. I think that is why education is such so key in fighting poverty. Not too mention the critical thinking skills gained.

WakeUp's avatar

Mangus – Absolutey wonderful answer. Very succint. In this post industrial revolution age where food is thrown away by the ton, poverty is indeed manufactured.

alex – excellent quote

ketoneus – that is a very real observation, and sad as well. Poverty forces people into a certain lifestyle that compounds the difficulty of elevating one’s status, which is passed on like a cycle of abuse to future generations.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

Poverty can sometimes be a strong motivator for wealth.
But I don’t know what causes poverty.
Many good ideas and thoughts from the members.

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