Today, the Census Bureau released its annual poverty report, which declared that a record 46.2 million persons, or roughly one in seven Americans, were poor in 2010. The numbers were up sharply from the previous year’s total of 43.6 million. Although the current recession has increased the numbers of the poor, high levels of poverty predate the recession. In most years for the past two decades, the Census Bureau has declared that at least 35 million Americans lived in poverty.
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Before 1965, most Americans believed that property rights and the marriage-based family were the most effective means to get people out of poverty. After 1965, government policy and elite opinion turned against the older view.
The mainstream press and activist groups frequently conflate poverty with homelessness. News stories about poverty often feature homeless families living “on the street.” This depiction is seriously misleading because only a small portion of persons “living in poverty” will become homeless over the course of a year. The overwhelming majority of the poor reside throughout the year in non-crowded housing that is in good repair.
Although news stories often suggest that poverty and homelessness are similar, this is inaccurate. In reality, the gap between the living conditions of a homeless person and the typical poor household are proportionately as great as the gap between the poor household and a middle-class family in the suburbs.
Poverty and Home Ownership. The American Housing Survey reports that roughly 41 percent of poor households owned their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio. The median value of homes owned by poor households was $100,000 in 2009, or 60 percent of the median value of all homes owned in the United States.
One more reason is significant demographic shifts. For example, in the United States a number of single-member families is traditionally high, and has been increasing; because one parent has less opportunities to ensure an adequate standard of living both for their children and for themselves, single-parent families are traditionally poorer then normal. Besides, poor people often share a belief that it is the social institutions to blame for their poverty, or that they can never make it out of their low income; therefore, they create psychological backgrounds for their financial condition.
Essential Needs. Although the public equates poverty with physical deprivation, the overwhelming majority of poor households do not experience any form of physical deprivation. Some 70 percent of poor households report that during the course of the past year, they were able to meet “all essential expenses,” including mortgage, rent, utility bills, and important medical care. Although it is widely supposed that the poor cannot obtain medical care, only 13 percent of poor households report that a family member needed to go to a doctor or hospital at some point in the prior year but was unable to do so because the family could not afford the cost.
Another factor standing behind the increased poverty rates increase is unemployment. This problem has become one of the most urgent after 2008. In 2009 through 2010, about 42% of all families in Great Britain alone had no working members (Children Poverty Action Group). The job markets cannot offer enough jobs that would correspond with the skills of unemployed people. Besides, because of poverty, many people are willing to get any job for any payment; thus, they decrease the overall wages in those spheres that they start working at. In other words, the cheapening of labor and the working force takes place. There is no need to tell that low-wage jobs and part-time jobs are nothing else but poverty traps.
Poverty rates are greatly influenced by overpopulation. Overpopulation is a situation of a large number of people residing in a territory that is extremely limited in space and resources. Developing countries often face the problem of overpopulation; except the unequal distribution of resources and the lack of space, they usually have high birth rates, and low agricultural productivity. For example, Bangladesh has the highest population density in the world—2,970 persons per square mile. The dominating majority of them are engaged in low-productivity farming and manual labor, which causes extremely high levels of poverty in this country (Poverty at Large).
it provides no information on the actual living conditions of the persons identified as poor. It simply states that a specified number of persons are poor without giving any information on what poverty means in the real world. A detailed description of the living conditions of the poor would greatly enhance public understanding. In fact, without a detailed description of living conditions, public discussions of poverty are meaningless.
After the global economic crisis of 2008, many people around the globe faced one of the worst social phenomenons: poverty. In the United States alone, the number of poor people in 2012 increased up to 46.5 million (Reuters). In developing countries, the situation had become even worse. Poverty does not mean that a person has little money to afford goods they want to purchase, or to maintain a stable quality of life; rather often poverty is absolute, which means that one literally has no livelihood. But what factors usually stand behind such dramatic impacts of poverty around the world, except the aforementioned economic crisis?