The effects of poverty are intricately and deeply connected. However, it is helpful to individually identify the effects of poverty before observing them in relation to one another. This, in turn, will provide insight as to the causes of poverty well as how to alleviate poverty entirely. Discussed below are the main effects of poverty and their implications.
Five Devastating Effects of Poverty
Only 14 percent of the variation in a child’s performance can be attributed to school quality, according to Donald Hirsch, advisor to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. This means that a child’s background has a significant effect on their performance in school. Children who come from low-income families are far less likely to perform well in school. According to Department for Education statistics, by the end of primary school, pupils in need of free school meals are estimated to be almost three terms behind their more affluent peers.
- Child Development
Children living in poverty are more likely to learn poor health behaviors and are more susceptible to mental illness as they grow older. Children living in constant poverty also show the worst cognitive development, compared to children from higher socio-economic backgrounds. Children who are poor are often unable to participate in social, leisure and celebratory activities, which can negatively impact their self-esteem and friendships. They may feel less able to take advantage of learning opportunities in school, which can eventually hurt their future employment prospects.
The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime found that poverty had a significant and direct effect on young people’s likelihood to engage in violence at age 15. Young people living in a family where the head of the household was unemployed were also more likely to participate in criminal behavior.Even poor individuals with “low risk” backgrounds were more likely to engage in violence. This means that for certain types of young people, living in a poor household increases their risk of engaging in violence beyond what one would expect.
- Low Social Mobility
Children born into poverty are also more likely to grow up to be poor. For example, poor teenagers in Britain in the 1970s are twice as likely to be poor as adults, while poor teenagers in the 1980s are four times as likely to remain poor.When parents cannot find stable work, they are unable to provide their children with necessary attention and resources. This ultimately makes it more difficult for them to build a better life for their children in the future.
- Extra Social Spending
When adults are unable to meet their full potential in society, they contribute less productively to the economy. They often receive payment benefits and reduced tax revenues, which necessitates extra social spending.The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates that child poverty costs the United Kingdom at least £25 billion a year. This includes £12 billion a year on public spending on services that alleviate the immediate effects of poverty. The remaining £13 billion accounts for the annual costs of below average employment rates.
The key to alleviating poverty is to coordinate humanitarian efforts between these many factors. Once we understand the effects of poverty and their many dimensions, we can take the necessary steps to eradicate the issue altogether.
– Liliana Rehorn