5 Effects of Poverty

The effects of poverty can be felt at every level of society — from the individual living in poverty to the political leader attempting to provide solutions. Whether it is health conditions or increased crime rates, poverty reaches just about every aspect of life. Let’s looks at the five biggest effects of poverty in order to understand the severity of the problem:

1. Malnutrition

The most common effect of poverty is malnutrition.

This is especially seen in children of poor families. People living in poverty rarely have access to highly nutritious foods. Even if they have access to these foods, it is unlikely that they are able to purchase them. The healthiest foods are usually the most expensive; therefore, a family on a very small budget is much more likely to purchase food that is less nutritious, simply because that is all they can afford.

Sometimes people in poverty are malnourished simply because they do not eat enough of anything. For some people around the world, quality food is a luxury. A total of 14.3 percent of people in developing countries face hunger and about 25 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa is considered malnourished. Poor nutrition causes 45 percent of deaths in children under the age of 5. Malnutrition can also lead to many other health issues as well.

2. Health

One of the most severe effects of poverty is the health effects that are almost always present.

This includes things from diseases to life expectancy to medicine. Diseases are very common in people living in poverty because they lack the resources to maintain a healthy living environment. They are almost always lacking in nutritious foods, which decreases their bodies’ ability to fight off diseases. Sanitation conditions are usually very low, increasing the chance of contracting a disease. Sometimes these diseases can be minor, but other times they can be life-threatening. In general, people living in poverty cannot afford appropriate medicines to treat these illnesses.

Life expectancy and child mortality are greatly affected by poverty. Statistics show that life expectancy in poor nations is up to 30 years below that of wealthy nations, like the United States. Child mortality is shockingly high in poor countries; 13.5 percent of children die before the age of 5 in poor countries. This number is the average for poor countries, however some African nations have a child mortality rate of 20 percent.

3. Education

Education is largely affected by poverty.

Many people living in poverty are unable to attend school from a very early age. Families may not be able to afford the necessary clothing or school supplies. Others may not have a way for their children to get to school. Whatever the reason, there is a clear correlation between families living in poverty and their lack of education. Without the ability to attend school, many people go through life illiterate.

The literacy rates in countries with high poverty levels indicate that these two are linked. Low literacy rates can affect society in various ways including the labor force and politics. Obtaining a basic education could bring 171 million people out of poverty. A bad cycle is created; poverty prevents people from gaining a good education, and not obtaining an education prevents people from escaping poverty.

4. Economy

Among the effects of poverty includes its impact on the economy of the country.

Mainly, the number of people living in poverty influences employment rates heavily. Without an education, people are unlikely to find a paying job. Unemployment hinders a country from developing into a strong economic system. A high unemployment rate can impede a country from progressing in all aspects.

The labor force suffers when a large part of the citizens cannot contribute to economic development. For example, the Indian economy has not been able to develop at a high rate for many years because of the high number of people living in poverty.  About 22 percent of the population in India lives in poverty and their economy can only improve when this percentage decreases.

5. Society

Poverty also has social effects.

Many people living in poverty are homeless, which puts them on the streets. There also seems to be a connection between poverty and crime. When people are unemployed and homeless, social unrest may take over and lead to increases in crime. When people have nothing and no money to buy necessities, they may be forced to turn to theft in order to survive. Homelessness and high crime rates impact of a country’s people and can create many problems within a society.

It is clear that poverty has far-reaching effects on all people. By improving global poverty, economies could prosper, health could improve and countries can develop into strong global presences. All countries will benefit when decreasing global poverty becomes a priority in the world.

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