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Poverty and Its Consequences

The effects of poverty on education, promiscuity, and politics.

Poverty is defined by the Encyclopedia Americana as “the insufficiency of means relative to human needs” (Dale Tussing, “Poverty” in Encyclopedia Americana International Edition (vol. 22, pp.495-497)Tussing, 2004).

Poverty in the United States is a serious issue. Even with all the modern advances, there are still children who go hungry at night because their parents can not afford to feed them. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the official poverty rate increased four years in a row before stabilizing at 12.6 percent in 2005. 24.9 percent of Blacks and 21.8 percent of Hispanics were living in poverty in 2005 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005).

These statistics were unchanged from 2004 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005). The poverty rate for non-Hispanic Whites dropped from 8.7 percent in 2004, to 8.3 percent in 2005. In 2005, the percent of children living in poverty was 17.6 percent (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005). That was higher than that of 18-to-64-year-olds, which was 11.1 percent, and also higher than people 65 and older, which was 10.1 percent (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005).

In the United States more than 30 percent of poor families are headed by single mothers (Tussing, 2004). If the head of the family is less than twenty five years old, the incidence of poverty is increased (Tussing, 2004). Education is also a factor of poverty. “The family in which the head has eight or less years of schooling is far more likely to be poor than on headed by a better-educated person” (Tussing, 2004).

People who live in the inner-city are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as those people who live in suburban areas, and non-white people are almost three times as likely to live in poverty as Whites. (Tussing, 2004). “The poverty rate is higher in the South than in other regions of the United States” (Tussing, 2004).

There are many causes of poverty, but the most important cause is poverty itself (Tussing, 2004). The many effects of poverty often turn into the causes of “its persistence in individuals, families, and racial and other groups” (Tussing, 2004). Some examples of this “vicious cycle” include the following:

Education. Schools that are attended by poor children get less money per pupil (Tussing, 2004). These children often do not obtain the degrees, diplomas, and certificates that are necessary to get a good job later on (Tussing, 2004).

Health, Nutrition, and Safety. The poor have diets that are less nourishing (Tussing, 2004). There are more birth defects, accidents, disease, and reported mental illness among the poor than those who are not poor (Tussing, 2004). As a result of these factors the poor are more likely to have lower IQs (Tussing, 2004). Another result of these factors is that they have higher absenteeism at work and school, lower energy levels, lower productivity, and shorter life spans (Tussing, 2004).

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