Poverty may be defined as a state of living characterized by the inability to suffice the basic necessities of life such as diet, health and shelter. It is also a state of living below the poverty threshold/line defined by the government.In ascertaining the root cause of poverty, some claims that it is the cause of the poor people themselves while some believes that it is due to the unequal distribution of wealth. Poverty as an individual cause could be due to the differences in education, skill, intellectual capacity, age, health, disposition in life and others. While all of these are true, it is not sufficient to say that poverty is caused by the inability of the person in this state to better-off his living. After all, there is no one in this world who does not want to at least achieve state of sufficiency if not wealth.
I believe that the greater cause of poverty is due to the unequal distribution of wealth. According to (Beneria & Bisnath, 1996) poverty is linked to the unequal access and distribution of resources. In the book Poverty of America, similar assertion is also made (Iceland, 2003) and (Hurst, 2004) said that the disparity with the distribution of wealth significantly rises each year.Hurst (2004) also said that in the U.
S. Census of year 2000 12.6% of the population has income below the poverty threshold. Significant differences also occur in the different categories of poor in which whites with 8.1 % have the lowest while that of Asians, Native Hawaiians, African-Americans and American Indians and Alaska Natives have 12.6%, 17.7%, 24.9%, and 25.
7% respectively. Also, it was said that the percentage of poverty of families headed by female increased dramatically to 38% in 2002 which originally was 18% back in 1959.More importantly these figures convey that there are factors that could affect the distribution of wealth, which in turn cause poverty. The paradigm of all factors is social inequality brought about by social stratification, gender and race. Social inequality arises from the cultural differences in perceiving gender, race and social classes of people.
Racism is a form of marginalizing some groups of people and this can significantly affect poverty (Jackson, 2001). Black Americans along with the immigrants are the usual victims of racism thus this could result into these people being offered with jobs of lower importance or with lower salary rate. According to Iceland (2003) throughout the nineteenth century African Americans persisted to be severely constrained by the labor market in which they are forded to the rural areas. Also they were not offered with full-time jobs as dictated by either law or practice hence they were left with agricultural jobs as sole option.Wealth has always been men’s domain especially in developing countries as they are favored by social structures and practices and even exacerbated in patriarchal societies.
Beneria and Bisnath (1996) noted that differential entitlements, capabilities and rights bestowed on women and men. Women are much restricted to land ownership and other propriety ownerships. Also illiteracy and low educational levels proved to be more in limiting the capabilities of women as influenced by social and cultural norms. Hence through the gendered social constraints women’s entitlements and capabilities are decreased which in some way restricts them from some rights.Presence of different social classes based on the control with basic resources results into formation of stratification. Thus, this creates social inequality on the basis of ownership, control of resources and type of work(Kendall, 1998).All of these factors hamper the attainment of equal wealth distribution and it is a reality that these are proliferating and that they exacerbate poverty. No one would ever be willing to be pinned down by poverty thus anyone would naturally work towards counteracting these factors.
However, toiling against these does not come as an easy task to everyone, hence there would always be some who will left as victims of the unequal distribution of wealth and those of course are the people of poverty.