Poverty Information:

UN Millenium Goals, 2011 UN Millenium Goals Report


Poverty is the lack of adequate resources to be able to provide the basic needs of food, water, clothing, housing, medical care, and education.

Federal Poverty Level: A system developed in the 1960s to define poverty by measuring the cost of certain food items and multiplying the total by 3, because in the 1960s a family’s food budget was approximately a third of total expenses.

Absolute Poverty Line: The threshold below which one is considered to be lacking the financial resources to meet basic needs.

Relative Poverty: The level at which an individual has significantly less access to income and wealth than others in the same society.

EU and OECD Poverty Level: The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union define poverty as a relative poverty measure, with a definition that poverty is an income below 60% of the national median equalized disposable income. In 2009, for the US under this method the poverty level would be under $42,212.

Living Wage: A wage that adequately covers basic needs taking into account cost of living by area of residence. To calculate the living wage in your area, click here.

Middle Class: There is no definition.

Poverty risk factors:

  • Inadequate assets
  • High debt
  • Not graduating from high school
  • Young single parent
  • Divorce, especially for the wife
  • Inadequate health insurance

Financially devastating bumps in the road for those without assets or adequate income:

  • Illness needing medical or dental treatment
  • Car or house repair
  • Missing work due to caring for sick family member
  • Spousal abuse
  • Alcoholism or drug abuse
  • Affordable day care
  • Cuts in services that are depended upon to make it through the month
  • Increase in living expenses without an increase in wages

How to reduce risk of poverty:

  • Finish high school
  • Work full-time and get paid a living wage.
  • Don't be a single young parent.

Characteristics of poor countries:

  • Income disparity without a strong middle class
  • Large poorly-educated population
  • Reduced or limited social services
  • Large national debt
  • Lack of equal opportunities

Social issues tied to poverty:

  • Poor health & lower life expenctency
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Poor school performance
  • Increase in missing school
  • Increase in crime
  • Increase in domestic violence
  • Lower economic potential and productivity

Leading causes of poverty:

  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Low wages and reduced government assistance
  • Lack of affordable services (health care, child care)
  • Lack of affordable educational opportunity
  • Lack of job opportunity

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