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Poverty as a Social Problem in the United States of America

Poverty is when individuals lack the socially acceptable and usual amount of money or possessions; hence, it exists when people lack ways to satisfy and meet their basic needs due to the lack of income and resources that can ensure a sustainable livelihood. Manifestations of poverty include; malnutrition, hunger, social discrimination, limited access to education, limited access to health care and other essential services, poor health conditions, and lack of participation in the decision making. Society perceives poverty as a one-person issue brought about by lousy decision-making and laziness with the belief that individuals should be responsible for their well-being, the financial stability of their families, and their level of income. On the other hand, research shows that poverty is a social problem resulting from inadequate structuring of a country’s distribution of goods and products in different sectors and the economy of a particular country (Jendereglian & Bellows, 2021). The government’s failure to raise and build the systems that would promote financial growth among its citizens leads to other social issues associated with poor healthcare services, low-quality education, and a rise in crime levels and criminal activities. The government should work hard to provide better support to the population, both social and financial aid, increasing people’s opportunities to increase their income.

In the 2020 United States of America, the poverty rate remained high, with around 11.4 percent living below the national poverty line. The poverty rate varies across different ethnic groups, out of which children became the most endangered population group in the U.S, recording 16.1% in 2020. The number of people living below the poverty line varies from state to state, registering its numbers. According to statistics studied, Georgia had 13.3% of the population living below the poverty rate in 2019, declining from 14.3% in 2018. 2020 saw a decrease from the previous year, recording 13.2% of the population living below the poverty rate (Statista, 2021). In 2020 South Carolina, on the other hand, the state recorded 13.3% of the population living below the poverty line, a decline from 13.8% in 2019.

The main factors and causes that lead to poverty in the united states and, in particular, Georgia and South Carolina are the policies and practices put in place by both the federal government and state governments that significantly impact health, food security, and crime. The procedures lead to inequitable distribution of public resources and inequalities in society regarding opportunities, skills, employment, and disparities in pay (Berger et al., 2018). Limited access to education and the labor market issues brought about by half-baked policies by the government impact society and the community, particularly with low-skilled labor and marketable skills leading to people earning less. Some of the policies meant and designed to protect the vulnerable in society end up hurting the poor since many policies drive up the prices of food and energy that hurt the poor consumers; examples of these policies are energy and environmental policies that distort the market hence driving the costs higher forcing low-income families to choose between energy and other necessities, allocating more funds in the energy bills don’t only affect them financially but also health-wise. Government interventions and policies on food and agriculture make it more difficult for the poor to meet their needs since such interventions lead to increased food prices. Policies regulating international trade and economics can cause poverty to increase over time due to a lack of a variety of cheap goods to choose from ( Desmond &Western, 2018).

To address the rise in the number of people living below the poverty line in Georgia and South Carolina, Agencies and Social workers need to fight for the rights and change policies by the government to accommodate the vulnerable in the community ( Spector & Kitsuse,2017). Changes in Economic policies can accelerate the transformation and eradication of poverty. Some of the changes that the agencies need to fight for are our sustained economic growth policies that reduce unemployment, the imposition of progressive taxes, and increasing the national minimum wage.

Policies in different countries can affect economic inequalities, including the redistribution between the rich and the poor in society. Social workers and agencies can push aggressively to attain economic equality hence making it easier to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor (Marns &Rein 2018). Economic equality increases economic output by improving the quality of education, quality health care systems and building an excellent political base for market forces. This is achieved by changes in the policy-making process and policies.


Berger, L. M., Cancian, M., & Magnuson, K. (2018). Anti-poverty policy innovations: New proposals for addressing poverty in the United States. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 4(2), 1-19.

Desmond, M., & Western, B. (2018). Poverty in America: New directions and debates. Annual Review of Sociology, 44, 305-318.

Jenderedjian, A., & Bellows, A. C. (2021). Rural poverty, violence, and power: Rejecting and endorsing gender mainstreaming by food security NGOs in Armenia and Georgia. World Development, 140, 105270.

Marris, P., & Rein, M. (2018). Dilemmas of social reform: poverty and community action in the United States. Routledge.

Spector, M., & Kitsuse, J. I. (2017). Constructing social problems. Routledge.


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