What is the cycle of poverty?

Understanding poverty seems simple from some common definitions faced but, in reality, complicated when different factors are put in context. The common meaning of the term poverty is not having enough money to meet basic daily needs like food, shelter, water or clothes. What is clear is that there is poverty in almost all the countries of the world, however, in some cases, such as in developing countries, poverty is extreme, widespread and intense. The World Bank defines a situation of extreme poverty with less than $ 1 a day. In the poverty cycle, sometimes referred to as a vicious circle of poverty or poverty trap, a series of factors and events begins and traps a person or persons in poverty for a long period of time up to the application of appropriate interventions.

How the poverty cycle occurs

In the poverty cycle, families remain poor for three or more generations due to a number of factors. Due to the short life expectancy among the poorest, the poverty cycle takes a long time so that the older generations do not live to positively affect economic or social values ​​for the younger generations so that they can emerge from poverty. For a newborn, poverty begins at birth and, if it survives, it grows malnourished and often sick because the mother cannot afford a better lifestyle. This cycle continues as children become poor adults who give birth to poor children. The poverty cycle has distinct indicators such as less food, less water, ill health, illiteracy, poor hygiene, lack of opportunities and low income, among other factors.

Culture of poverty

The culture of poverty theory attempts to provide an explanation of what the cycle of poverty really is. This school of thought suggests that the poor have a specific culture and norms different from those of people who are not poor. Just as in the cycle of poverty, the theory of the culture of poverty explains that when one grows up in a poor background, he or she only learns the lifestyle and practice of the poor and therefore risks remaining poor. The theory explains that living in poor areas makes interiorization and trust a hopeless future and therefore does not even try to get out of poverty, even with development programs. However, this theory has addressed critics including the political nature of poverty when regimes ignore a part of society.

Break the circle

Never before have the efforts of global humanitarian agencies, national governments and people been dedicated to ending extreme poverty and hunger compared to today. From global commitments such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Social Development Goals (SDGs), agencies, governments and citizens in the developed world are continually pledging resources to end the cycle of poverty in developing countries. They direct their efforts towards various interventions such as increasing opportunities in education and income, providing access to health facilities, income, water and other forms of infrastructure. Although progress is not as rapid as it should be, statistics indicate that there is a certain level of development. Governments in developing words are also working to provide an environment conducive to prosperity and to be responsible for the help they receive. With such improved access to socio-economic resources, the poor have the opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty and define a different future for themselves and their families.


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