People in this world understand what poverty is and how devastating it is for individuals and communities. However, the factors that lead to poverty are not as clear as the way in which poverty affects people. The question of why does poverty exists has been asked many times yet the ultimate solution continues to evade the world due to the multifaceted issues of this problem. These are the top factors that lead to poverty today.
Top Factors that Lead to Poverty
- One of the obvious factors that lead to poverty is the lack of clean water. There are many people in the world who take access to clean water for granted. However, 2.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe, readily available water and 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation. This factor is crucial to poverty because not only does inadequate sanitation and lack of clean water leads to preventable diseases like diarrhea or something more serious like typhoid but the cost of mitigating this issue is increased as time goes by. The efforts to survive through these illnesses can ultimately force the individual to be stuck in poverty for a longer term. This happens because these people spend little money they have on transportation to a clinic and to medical costs. Considering that it is nearly impossible to live without water, many people are spending precious hours and energy to reach a water collection point. People in poverty in rural communities have the greatest risk for falling into this vicious circle.
- Poor education is also one of the key factors that can lead to poverty. This is because education is one of the greatest assets a person can have, and poor or no education often leads to poverty. Education provides protection against poverty in a way that it acts as a great equalizer. Being educated provides people with the means to reach for more ambitious career and life goals. For instance, 35 percent of people who have the educational attainment of less than a high school are likely to be impoverished, compared to 5 percent of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher. UNESCO estimates that 171 million people could escape poverty if they had basic literacy skills.
- Another factor that leads to poverty is the unreliable labor market. Extreme poverty is defined as the situation in which someone is surviving on less than $1.90 a day. Sadly, about 11 percent of the world’s population is classified as living in these conditions. The reason why these people are troubled is directly related to the conditions of the jobs that they have and job opportunities. The unreliable availability of jobs and the insufficient wages make it difficult for people to take themselves out of poverty. This also relates to the factor of the education, as people who do not have specific skills or experience have a hard time to secure themselves with a stable and high-paid job.
- The unequal distribution of the wealth in the world also contributes to poverty. In 2005, it was estimated that the wealthiest 10 percent of the world accounted for 59 percent of a total private consumption. Meanwhile, the poorest 10 percent consumed only 0.5 percent. The people who are struggling in poverty have little and consume little. This pattern will continue endlessly unless this distribution is equalized to some extent. An example of this inequality can be seen in the net worth of different individuals. In 2006, the 497 billionaires in the world had a net worth of $3.5 trillion. This is nearly triple the net worth of low-income countries that have 2.4 billion people and net worth of $1.6 trillion.
- Poor infrastructure is also a large factor of poverty. Impoverished people generally live in isolated communities in rural areas. This means that these people do not have easy access to electricity, water, roads and reliable transportation. For example, more than 85 percent of the population in the Central African Republic lacks electricity and connectivity. As a result, isolation is limiting the ability to education or work opportunities.
Many factors that affect poverty are not mentioned above. Poverty is not only an issue for people affected but it impacts the entire world. It can come as a result of many other factors, therefore, it is difficult to truly eliminate it. This requires the international cooperation and understanding on how to overcome these factors.
– Jenny S. Park