Books About Poverty
Books, historically, impress on people in ways no other medium can. Their value is indisputable and has proven a necessity throughout time as a means to communicate and collect knowledge. Literature covers an array of genres, from horror to romance, technology to business—a book can really contain anything. In today’s complex world, people also use books to spread the news of relevant issues, and specifically, can spread the news of global poverty. Publishers have published hundreds of books about poverty in the last century alone, but a few have shone through in recent years. If anyone wants to become more informed about global poverty, the list of books about poverty below would be a perfect way to start.

5 Good Books About Poverty

  1. The End of Poverty” by Jeffery Sachs takes a look at poverty from an economic standpoint. The author, both an avid traveler and economist himself, utilizes both analytical research and personal experience in developing nations to provide an in-depth assessment of global poverty. His travels through Bolivia, India, China, Russia and Africa complete the picture of global poverty he tries to address. At the same time, he provides insight on how to escape poverty through the perspective of global economics. The unique economic standpoint permits not only a glimpse into the issues but also ideas of how to fight them.
  2. Behind the Beautiful Forevers” snapshots the life of a settlement just outside the airport of Mumbai, India. Author Katharine Boo eloquently follows the stories of various individuals living in the area as a way to highlight poverty in India. She also utilizes the narrative to explore controversial themes within the Indian context, from politics to economics to religion. As a nonfiction bestseller, the book won a National Book Award in 2012. With a central focus on the developing parts of India and a strong written backbone, this book about poverty offers great insight into a complex issue of the world.
  3. How China Escaped the Poverty Trap” captures the country’s development from a struggling nation to an economic powerhouse with a global standing. Taking into account China’s entire development holistically, author Yuen Yuen Ang frames his analysis with a combination of history, economics, politics and general sentiments of the Chinese throughout the years. In addition to an isolated look at China, Ang finds methods of comparison between other nations as they rose into prominence, such as the United States. This book about poverty showcases how a country can come up from poverty and become an established force in the world.
  4. A Poverty of Rights” analyzes Brazil’s governmental growth and the effect it has had on the nation’s poorest classes. Though the country has grown to protect most rights of its citizens, it seems that the country left out the lower classes during the developmental period, resulting in difficulty for these people to even survive in their own country. Author Brodwyn Fischer assesses the damage through both a political and legislative perspective, highlighting both the progress of the country and the challenges it still faces.
  5. Poverty in South Africa: Past and Present” explores the persistent nature of poverty in Africa, both of today’s times and of the past. Author Colin Bundy’s book about poverty, published in 2018, is able to provide an accurate account of the trouble times due to several factors. It takes a look at Africa’s society from various perspectives, including (though not limited to) historical, economic, financial and political. The book focuses on the root factors affecting poverty in Africa to try and answer the question of why the country has yet to develop further in today’s modern world. This work assesses Africa’s situation on a logical scale, allowing the reader to view challenges with an objective thought process.

Books have a way of capturing a concept more holistically than any other form of record. While they can contain basic information, authors also have the distinct ability to make an audience feel and empathize with the subject. As such, books are also the perfect way to discuss poverty. Readers are able to learn about the issues and also visualize them with immense detail. They are truly a way to spread the word about poverty.

Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Unsplash

Documentaries About PovertyDocumentaries are a form of film or television which take advantage of the entertainment platform to inform audiences of important issues through a more gripping means. They range in topics from technological innovation to the controversial beauty industry. Many documentaries have also focused on another major issue of today: global poverty. Below is a list of the top five documentaries about poverty as of 2019 and where to find them.

Top 5 Documentaries About Poverty and Where to Find Them

  1. The End of Poverty?: Directed by Philippe Diaz, who is well known within the genre, the documentary debuted in 2008 and became notorious for its unique historical perspective on global poverty. It highlighted the ways poverty has amassed through the years, beginning as early as the 16th century and concluding with present day. The film describes how poverty thrives in today’s world through interviews with historians, economists and impoverished families from around the world. This documentary can be viewed on Amazon Prime.
  2. Dilli: This 2011 documentary about the slums of Delhi focuses on the hardships of individuals in the area. Though relatively short, coming in just longer than 30 minutes, the film has a firm impact on the audience. Through interviews with citizens, ranging from old to young, directors Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas depict these daily trials. The film received critical acclaim, winning 1st place in the Short Documentary category of the Los Angeles Movie Awards. This documentary about poverty can be viewed now on Youtube.
  3. Poor No More: This 2010 documentary focuses on the poverty of Canada’s working-class by following the journey of native citizens. It puts Canada under a lens in comparison with Ireland and Sweden in terms of their respective job markets. The documentary takes a moment to focus on poverty within a different context—within the context of a country which is generally presumed as wealthy and well structured. The documentary can be viewed on Youtube.
  4. Hauling: This documentary, which premiered in 2010, follows the daily life of the Claudine family, a household of 27 children, whose income is dependent on the recycling system of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Every day, they collect the leftover wood, plastic and cardboard of the city in exchange for meager payment from the local recycling plant. The film brings forth the discussion of poverty in Brazil and the ways which their citizens persevere. The film can be viewed on Amazon Prime.
  5. The True Cost: This 2015 documentary focuses on the fashion industry and the way it uses impoverished nations to obtain cheap labor and goods. The film highlights the controversy of the fashion industry and the way it abuses the environment and ignores basic human rights. This documentary about poverty can be found on Netflix.

Art and media can become a platform for the voiceless. In these five documentaries about poverty, the lives of the underprivileged are documented for the rest of the world to face. If people want to help, but they don’t quite know where to start, then they must take the first step to get informed. Any of these documentaries could be a place to start.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Flickr

books about poverty
Despite tremendous progress over the past few decades in eradicating global poverty, nearly a fifth of the world still lives on less than $1.25 a day. In recent years, a number of economists, academics, and political analysts have published books providing insight into the causes, effects, and solutions to global poverty. Here are some top books about global poverty that particularly stand out:

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (2007)

By Paul Collier

“Economist and Africa expert Collier analyzes why a group of 50 nations, home to the poorest one billion people, are failing. Considering issues such as civil war, dependence on extractive industries, and bad governance, he argues that the strongest industrialized countries must enact a plan to help with international policies and standards.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

Creating a World Without Poverty (2007)

By Muhammad Yunus

“As founder of Grameen Bank, Yunus pioneered microcredit, the innovative banking program that provides poor people mainly women with small loans they use to launch businesses and lift their families out of poverty. Now, in Creating a World Without Poverty, Yunus goes beyond microcredit to pioneer the idea of social business – a completely new way to use the creative vibrancy of business to tackle social problems from poverty and pollution to inadequate health care and lack of education.” – Yunus Centre

The Beautiful Tree: A Personal Journey into How the World’s Poorest People Are Educating Themselves (2009)

By James Tooley

The Beautiful Tree “tells the remarkable story of author James Tooley’s travels travels from Africa to Asia, and of the children, parents, teachers, and others who showed him how the poor are building their own schools and learning to save themselves.” –The Cato Institute

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (2006)

By Jeffrey Sachs

“Sachs outlines a detailed plan to help the poorest of the poor reach the first rung on the ladder of economic development. By increasing aid significantly to provide the basic infrastructure and human capital for markets to work effectively, Sachs argues such investment is not only economically sound but a moral imperative.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (2006)

By William Easterly

“Easterly, a celebrated economist, presents one side in what has become an ongoing debate with fellow star-economist Jeffrey Sachs about the role of international aid in global poverty. Easterly argues that existing aid strategies have not and will not reduce poverty, because they don’t seriously take into account feedback from those who need the aid and because they perpetuate western colonial tendencies.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (1998)

By David Landes

“The Wealth and Poverty of Nations is David S. Landes’s acclaimed, best-selling exploration of one of the most contentious and hotly debated questions of our time: Why do some nations achieve economic success while others remain mired in poverty? The answer, as Landes definitively illustrates, is a complex interplay of cultural mores and historical circumstance.” – W.W. Norton & Company, Inc

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (2006)

By C.K Pralahad

“Explaining that the world’s five billion poor make up the the fastest growing market in the world, Prahalad shows how this segment has vast untapped buying power, and represents an enormous potential for companies who learn how to serve this market by providing the poor with that they need.” – Amazon

Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail (2009)

By Paul Polak

“Polak, a psychiatrist, has applied a behavioral and anthropological approach to alleviating poverty, developed by studying people in their natural surroundings. He argues that there are three mythic solutions to poverty eradication: donations, national economic growth, and big businesses. Instead, he advocates helping the poor earn money through their own efforts of developing low-cost tools that are effective and profitable.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa (2009)

By Dambisa Moyo

“Moyo, a Zambia-born economist, asserts that aid is not only ineffective—it’s harmful. Her argument packs a strong punch because she was born and raised in Africa. Moyo believes aid money promotes the corruption of governments and the dependence of citizens, and advocates that an investment approach will do more to help reduce poverty than aid ever could.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

– Katrina Beedy

Sources: Stanford Social Innovation Review, Flavor Wire, Muhammad Yunus, WW Norton, Amazon
Photo: Cheryl Ann Skolnicki