Dire poverty is a major issue across the nation and world. Global poverty is influenced by many different factors, including war, natural disasters and disease. On a micro level, some elements to a social profile will lead to poverty of individuals. None of these characteristics in isolation may force someone into poverty. Taken together, they form a set of risk factors that exponentially increases an individual's chances of falling into poverty. In addition, the social factors that lead to poverty are many times fueled by poverty resulting in a destructive feedback loop.
A person's age contributes in a dynamic way to his chances of falling into poverty. In the United States alone, children under the age of 18 have the highest rate of poverty of any other age group. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2008, children in the U.S. represented a demographic sharing the burden of poverty disproportionate to their representation in the general population. They account for 25 percent of the population in general, yet they represent more than 30 percent of the population in poverty. Also, children under the age of 6 had a higher incidence rate of poverty than any other age bracket. All of these statistics point to the reality that children are incredibly vulnerable to poverty. On the other end of the spectrum, because those in poverty are not likely to live to a very old age, the elderly are disproportionately low in levels of poverty.
Employment is a paradoxical problem that is foundational to understanding poverty. Jobs are critical to helping those in poverty escape poverty, yet so often complications from poverty interfere with acquiring employment. Rapid development that is being experienced by many regions of the world in one sense holds promise for those looking for employment. However, many times those in poverty are not able to take advantage of the opportunities for good work. In addition, employment must be safe and provide fair wages, otherwise the "opportunities" only exacerbate the problem.
Education and Crime
High crime rates often are associated with poverty, but experts believe that a lack of good education is linked to increased crime rates. Funding for public school in impoverished areas is limited because property taxes are lower in poorer areas. As a result, children can fall through the cracks. And that's if there is an education system at all. In developing countries, children may have no opportunity for development, ensuring that they will fall into a lifestyle of poverty, which dramatically reduces their chances of a healthy, successful life.
Race is often tied to other secondary factors of privilege and influence, making it a significant factor in poverty. In particular, race and wealth share a strong correlation, leading experts to debate whether a causal relationship between the two exists, trapping members of a specific race in poverty generation after generation. Because poverty is characterized by limited opportunities for education and employment, and race is not a direct factor, many experts have explained that the correlation indicates that some races are simply inferior to others when it comes to financial management. But other experts point to research that demonstrates that this situation is not the case, pointing instead to the fact that wealthy families, mostly confined to one race, are able to bequeath their assets to subsequent generations, hence ensuring a race-wealth divide.
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Poverty by Age
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Age and Poverty as Risk Factors
- The United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development: Poverty and Employment
- Prospect.org: Race, Wealth and Intergenerational Poverty
- Science Daily: Poverty is Rooted in U.S. Education system, Research Finds
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