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Theory Article: Poverty

Poverty is a condition where people lack the financial possessions to support a chosen standard of life. People in a state of poverty lack the resources to afford the basic commodities in life, such as clothes, food, and shelter. Poverty is spread worldwide, and governments are ratifying policies to eliminate it. The prerequisite for poverty eradication is understanding its causes and strategizing to eliminate them. Different organizations are partnering with countries to eradicate poverty. Poverty is a global concern affecting numerous people, and nations must increase their efforts to curb it for increased quality of life.

Nature and Parameters of Poverty

Nature and Parameters

The international poverty measurement index is an income of $1.90 per day. Any person in the world living under the stated wage bill per day is considered to be poor. The World Bank aims to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty to 3% by the year 2030 (Go, 2020). Poverty is a global concern because it affects people all over the world. A study in 2022 proved that 698 million people, equivalent to 9%, live in extreme poverty, under 1.90 dollars per day (Brady, 2019). The number of people living in extreme poverty increased in 2020 by over 50 million people as COVID-19 ravaged the global economy (Dhongde & Dong, 2022). Although poverty is a global concern and stated in the United Nations as one of the sustainable development goals, sovereign nations have the role of helping their citizens move out of the poverty cycle. China and India are the two most populated countries implementing policies to eradicate poverty. Consequently, the countries moved over 407 million people from extreme poverty. Governments worldwide must formulate policies to overcome challenges by empowering all people affected to achieve prosperity.

Populations Most Affected

Almost all nations in the world have a percentage of poor people regardless of their economic status. For example, the United States of America is an economic superpower worldwide (Leal Filho et al., 2021). However, 11.6% of Americans are living below the poverty line. Poverty in the region, however, varies according to age group and race (Dhongde & Dong, 2022). Children below 18 years and adults over 65 years have a poverty rate of 16.9% and 10.3%, respectively (Brady, 2019). Gender comparison shows that females are poorer compared to their male counterparts. Blacks have the highest number of people living under the poverty line in the USA, at 19.5% (Leal Filho et al., 2021). The whites living under the poverty line are 8.2%, far less than the blacks living in poverty (Brady, 2019). Blacks, adults, children, and women are more affected by poverty in the USA than other groups.

Consequences of the Social Problem

Poverty in the USA has numerous negative consequences on the population. The insecurity and increased gang crime result from income discrepancies and poverty. Further, social problems have led to higher mortality rates because poor people cannot take care of their hospital bills, reducing life expectancy. Suicide due to depression and other mental conditions is likely to be experienced in poverty-stricken regions (Brady, 2019). Generally, poverty lowers the quality of life and jeopardizes the pursuit of happiness.

Theoretical Approach

Social exclusion theory is a multidimensional philosophy concerned with deprivation. The theory was coined in France by Rene Lenoir in 1974 (Leal Filho et al., 2021). Lenoir’s main aim was to have all the disabled, mentally ill, and socially maladjusted individuals have a chance to partake in economic activities. The then secretary for social action wanted to eliminate injustices committed against the people. The theory is relevant in the contemporary world since it involves the deprivation of resources and the required support to eradicate poverty. The main cause of poverty is deprivation, and the theory underscores why social exclusion increases discrimination (Brady, 2019). Consequently, the people discriminated against lack access to better healthcare, education, water and sanitation, and employment opportunities. Society is subdivided into classes through exclusion, and the status quo is created in the long run.

The creation of minorities and people of color in society is made possible by social exclusion. The state where people regroup based on biological traits and discriminate against others is likely to cause poverty in the discourse. The capitalist economic system also thrives in the exclusion system, where a few company owners get richer while the people working for them languish in poverty. Social inclusion is the antidote to solving the social challenge by ensuring that every person is involved in the economic welfare of a country (Go, 2020). Policymakers must investigate the existing data on exclusion and determine the best ways of overcoming the social challenge. Poverty is created by the social exclusion practiced in society by depriving certain members of rights to education and employment opportunities. The class system that creates the problem is responsible for maintaining it as the discrimination exercised deprives the blacks and women in patriarch societies of the resources.

Social Injustices and the Oppressive Forces

Social injustices are the primary causes of poverty in the contemporary world. Gender discrimination and racism are examples of the social injustices experienced that result in poverty. In patriarchal societies where gender discrimination is paramount, poverty is likely to affect women deprived of educational opportunities. Victims of gender discrimination lack the opportunities to get a better education, employment opportunities, and a safer working environment (Go, 2020). The few who make it to employment get meager pay and work under harsh conditions. Consequently, people lack the financial capacity to take care of their daily needs. Gender discrimination is, therefore, a social injustice that directly impacts poverty.

Racial discrimination is a social injustice manifested through depriving minorities, indigenous, and immigrant’s basic rights based on their color. In the USA, for example, blacks are discriminated against and are not given opportunities to flourish. After the Second World War, when American society was thriving, the blacks were left behind in the development agenda because they were red-lined on the development loans. In contrast, the whites were empowered with loans to buy houses and improve their living standards, and redlining deprived blacks of the right to ask for loans. Racial discrimination may lead to deprivation of employment opportunities, education, and healthcare facilities. Consequently, the group being discriminated against is exposed to absolute poverty.

Economic oppression is an example of the force causing poverty in the contemporary world. Capitalism is an example of an oppressive force where business owners pay workers minimal pay in exchange for labor. Since the capitalists view the employees as tools for property, the proletariat suffers at the hands of the bourgeoisie (Timor-Shlevin et al., 2023). The wages earned in such a setting must cater to the worker’s basic needs. Consequently, the workers need to be able to pay for the standard of living.

Social Work Strategies for Prevention and Intervention of the Social Problem

Employment Assistance

Social workers deal with societal challenges and meet people with different needs daily. Poverty-stricken neighborhoods are marred with unemployment, gang violence, and other social concerns. Social workers can help eradicate poverty through employee assistance programs. Social workers can change social problems into opportunities, solicit funds, and employ locals to solve the challenges. For example, drug distribution to the needy can be performed by the locals affected by poverty. Further, social workers may sign contracts with companies offering corporate social responsibility to employ the locals as staff. Through social work aid in employment assistance, poverty levels will be eradicated.

Educating People on Social Injustices and Oppressive Forces

The main causes of poverty may be traced to oppressive forces and social injustices. Social workers have a key mandate of educating the masses and lobbying for policy changes on behalf of society. If the community is educated on gender and racial discrimination, children will have equal education and employment opportunities (Timor-Shlevin et al., 2023). Consequently, poverty causes will be eradicated, and the people will experience a high quality of life in the discourse. The education may be conducted at the family and institutional level to ensure all people have an opportunity to thrive.


Poverty is one of the global concerns causing suffering to millions of people worldwide. Almost all nations worldwide are affected by poverty and require government policies and efforts by relevant stakeholders to end the challenge. The main cause of poverty is social exclusion where some members of society are discriminated against and deprived of rights and privileges. Social exclusion makes poverty more prevalent in certain groups than in others. Social workers can eradicate poverty through programs such as employment assistance and education since the oppressive forces, and social injustices can be eradicated through their interventions.


Brady, D. (2019). Theories of the Causes of Poverty. Annual Review of Sociologypp. 45, 155–175.

Dhongde, S., & Dong, X. (2022). Analyzing racial and ethnic differences in the USA through the lens of multidimensional poverty. Journal of Economics, Race, and Policy, 1-15.

Go, J. (2020). Race, empire, and epistemic exclusion: Or the structures of sociological thought. Sociological Theory38(2), 79-100.

Leal Filho, W., Lovren, V. O., Will, M., Salvia, A. L., & Frankenberger, F. (2021). Poverty: A central barrier to implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Environmental Science & Policypp. 125, 96–104.

Timor-Shlevin, S., Saar-Heiman, Y., & Krumer-Nevo, M. (2023). Poverty-Aware Programs in Social Service Departments in Israel: A Rapid Evidence Review of Outcomes for Service Users and Social Work Practice. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health20(1), 889.


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