Poverty is the state for the majority of the world’s people and nations. Why is this? Is it enough to blame poor people for their own predicament? Have they been lazy, made poor decisions, and been solely responsible for their plight? What about their governments? Have they pursued policies that actually harm successful development? Such causes of poverty and inequality are no doubt real. But deeper and more global causes of poverty are often less discussed.
Behind the increasing interconnectedness promised by globalization are global decisions, policies, and practices. These are typically influenced, driven, or formulated by the rich and powerful. These can be leaders of rich countries or other global actors such as multinational corporations, institutions, and influential people.
In the face of such enormous external influence, the governments of poor nations and their people are often powerless. As a result, in the global context, a few get wealthy while the majority struggle.
These next few articles and sections explore various poverty issues in more depth:
Most of humanity lives on just a few dollars a day. Whether you live in the wealthiest nations in the world or the poorest, you will see high levels of inequality.
The poorest people will also have less access to health, education and other services. Problems of hunger, malnutrition and disease afflict the poorest in society. The poorest are also typically marginalized from society and have little representation or voice in public and political debates, making it even harder to escape poverty.
By contrast, the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to benefit from economic or political policies. The amount the world spends on military, financial bailouts and other areas that benefit the wealthy, compared to the amount spent to address the daily crisis of poverty and related problems are often staggering.
Some facts and figures on poverty presented in this page are eye-openers, to say the least.
Read “Poverty Facts and Stats” to learn more.
Cutbacks in health, education and other vital social services around the world have resulted from structural adjustment policies prescribed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank as conditions for loans and repayment. In addition, developing nation governments are required to open their economies to compete with each other and with more powerful and established industrialized nations. To attract investment, poor countries enter a spiraling race to the bottom to see who can provide lower standards, reduced wages and cheaper resources. This has increased poverty and inequality for most people. It also forms a backbone to what we today call globalization. As a result, it maintains the historic unequal rules of trade.
Read “Structural Adjustment—a Major Cause of Poverty” to learn more.
Around the world, in rich or poor nations, poverty has always been present.
In most nations today, inequality—the gap between the rich and the poor—is quite high and often widening.
The causes are numerous, including a lack of individual responsibility, bad government policy, exploitation by people and businesses with power and influence, or some combination of these and other factors.
Many feel that high levels of inequality will affect social cohesion and lead to problems such as increasing crime and violence.
Inequality is often a measure of relative poverty. Absolute poverty, however, is also a concern. World Bank figures for world poverty reveals a higher number of people live in poverty than previously thought.
For example, the new poverty line is defined as living on the equivalent of $1.25 a day. With that measure based on latest data available (2005), 1.4 billion people live on or below that line.
Furthermore, almost half the world—over three billion people—live on less than $2.50 a day and at least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day:
Read “Poverty Around The World” to learn more.
Around 21,000 children die every day around the world.
That is equivalent to:
- 1 child dying every 4 seconds
- 14 children dying every minute
- A 2011 Libya conflict-scale death toll every day
- A 2010 Haiti earthquake occurring every 10 days
- A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring every 11 days
- An Iraq-scale death toll every 19–46 days
- Just under 7.6 million children dying every year
- Some 92 million children dying between 2000 and 2010
The silent killers are poverty, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes.
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