Poverty is:

  • not having access to an education
  • not having access to food
  • lack of shelter
  • unemployment
  • powerlessness
  • ill health
  • lack of representation
  • lack of freedom

Although it is difficult to measure poverty, there are two accepted methods of doing do;

  • Absolute poverty – When a person cannot provide for their own basic needs such as food and shelter. For instance, homeless people suffer from absolute poverty.
  • Relative poverty – Measures the extent to which households financial resources falls below an average income level. The governments official statistics define the poverty level as those earning below 60% of average earnings.

The poverty trap:

The poverty trap affects people living in households on low incomes.

  •  It creates a disincentive either to look for work or work longer hours because of the effects of the income tax and welfare benefits system – for example a worker might be given a the opportunity to earn an extra £40 a week by working ten additional hours. This increase in their gross income is subsequently reduced by an increase in income tax and national contributions.

( This person may then have more disposable income by being unemployed and receiving welfare benefits instead.)

The impact of poverty is not simply reserved to those who are directly suffering from it. The implication of poverty and high inequality within a country are widespread as it brings greater crime, health and pollution problems which negatively affect the wider population also.


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