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Effects of Poverty on Society

Abhijit Naik Oct 23, 2020
Poverty has considerably ill effects on the society, some of which include hunger and homelessness.
It becomes all the more important to understand these ill effects when you take into consideration the fact that as many as 1.2 billion people affected by it.
The condition characterized by lack of basic human needs as a result of inability to afford them is referred to as absolute poverty. The 'needs' in this case range from drinking water and shelter to basic health care and education. As opposed to absolute poverty, relative poverty is when the affected people have lesser resources as compared to others in the society.
According to the UNICEF's 2017 Child Mortality Report, 5.4 million children below the age of five succumb to poverty each day. Some of the most common causes of poverty include overpopulation, unequal distribution of resources, unemployment, etc.
Some of its most obvious effects include health problems, homelessness, and illiteracy. A couple of these effects, like health problems and illiteracy, can also act as causes and worsen the condition.

How Does Poverty Affect the Society?

Poverty is the major cause of hunger in the world. Almost all people who live in what the World Bank defines as 'absolute poverty', are affected by hunger and starvation.
If the data compiled by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is to be believed, as many as 821.6 million people across the world were chronically undernourished during 2018. Surprisingly though, more than 13 percent of these people live in developing countries.
When we talk of the effects of poverty, children are the worst affected.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2017, 5.4 million children died before they celebrated their fifth birthday. Around 45 percent of these children, succumbed to malnutrition.
The problem of hunger and food shortage is not restricted to the third world countries. If the United States Census Bureau is to be believed, 13 million American children lived in poverty in 2018, and thus, didn't have access to sufficient nutritious food.
According to the 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report compiled by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 567,715 Americans were homeless as of January 2019. It also revealed that one quarter of these homeless were below the age of 18 years.
A significant portion of people below the poverty line cannot afford to have a proper dwelling, and thus, have no option, but to 'sleep rough'.~ More than 150 million people are homeless in the world as of today, with some sources suggesting that the number far exceeds the 300 million mark.
A person living in poverty cannot afford daily bread at times, leave alone thinking about health-related expenditure. In the same way, a person who is not in the best of his health will find it difficult to work and earn his daily bread. Thus, poverty and poor health form a vicious circle.
Around ⅓ of the total number of deaths in the world, which roughly amounts to 18 million people, every year are attributed to diseases of poverty. These include diseases like AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, measles, pneumonia, etc.
Poverty is inadvertently related to the worsening health.
A newly coined term, the 'diseases of poverty' refers to diseases which are more likely to affect poor people than their affluent counterparts. Most of these diseases are attributed to lack of basic health care.
Poor health due to poor economic conditions is not restricted to physical disorders alone. Poor people have been notes to fall prey to diseases, which can push people into more poverty, including a range of mental illnesses which hinder the person's ability to work.
While children living in absolute poverty cannot afford basic education, those in relative poverty are forced to dropout half way into their elementary or middle schooling due to their inability to pay fees for further education or as a result of having to shoulder family responsibilities.
The relationship between poverty and education also works the other way round, with lack of education being one of the most important causes of poverty in the world. It's obvious that the average income for a high school dropout will be less compared to the same for a graduate.
The effects of poverty on a child's development are seen in the classroom, most often in the form of low self-esteem.
The fact that children from well-to-do families dress better or have more resources at their disposal can bring about a feeling of inferiority in children living in poverty.
Poverty leads to social differences, causing poor children to withdraw from the learning environment and indulge in anti-social behavior, thus making poverty one of the most serious social issues we are facing today.
The rate of poverty in the United States for the year 2018 is 11.8%. While that may be good, it's far from ideal. The need of this hour is to concentrate on identifying the solutions for poverty-related problems and implementing them to reverse the same.