Substance abuse, such as alcoholism and drug abuse.
Natural factors such as climate or environment.
Overpopulation. Note that population growth slows or even become negative as poverty is reduced due to the demographic transition.
Lack of education.
Lack of social skills.
Cultural causes, which attribute poverty to common patterns of life, learned or shared within a community. For example, some have argued that Protestantism contributed to economic growth during the industrial revolution.
Individual beliefs, actions and choices.
Mental illness and disability, such as Autism, and Schizophrenia.
Geographic factors, for example fertile land and access to natural resources.
Disease, specifically Diseases of poverty: AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis and others overwhelmingly afflict the poor, which perpetuate poverty by diverting individual, community, and national health and economic resources from investment and productivity. Further, many tropical nations are affected by diseases like Malaria and Schistosomiasis that are not present in temperate climates.
Inadequate nutrition in childhood in poor nations may lead to physical and mental stunting.
Discrimination of various kinds, such as age discrimination, gender discrimination, racial discrimination.
Effects of child poverty
Some possible effects of child poverty, some which may also be causations of poverty as mentioned above, thus conforming what's known as a "poverty cycle" and complicating the subject even further:
Diseases and disabilities; low health care services
High crime rate
Increased risk of political violence; such as terrorism, war and genocide
Lack of opportunities for employment
Increased susceptibility to death from natural disasters.
Lower life expectancy
Debates about poverty
The underlying causes of poverty and the elimination thereof are a controversial, politicized issue. Advocates of a libertarian view may look to structural factors that prevent economic growth such as poorly protected property rights, lacking credit system, crime, corruption, rent seeking, and harmful regulation which prevent economic efficiency.
Those with more left wing views may see poverty as the result of different systemic factors. For instance, they may consider that poverty is caused by lack of opportunity (particularly in education), and that it is often the lack of government intervention which results in more poverty. They tend to believe that alleviating poverty is a matter of social justice and that it is the responsibility of the wealthy to help those in need.
Most agree that education is part of the solution. If people waited until they could afford to have children, child poverty would be greatly reduced.
Atkinson, Anthony B. Poverty in Europe 1998
Betson, David M., and Jennifer L. Warlick. "Alternative Historical Trends in Poverty." American Economic Review 88:348-51. 1998. in JSTOR
Brady, David "Rethinking the Sociological Measurement of Poverty" Social Forces 81#3 2003, pp. 715-751 Online in Project Muse. Abstract: Reviews shortcomings of the official U.S. measure; examines several theoretical and methodological advances in poverty measurement. Argues that ideal measures of poverty should: (1) measure comparative historical variation effectively; (2) be relative rather than absolute; (3) conceptualize poverty as social exclusion; (4) assess the impact of taxes, transfers, and state benefits; and (5) integrate the depth of poverty and the inequality among the poor. Next, this article evaluates sociological studies published since 1990 for their consideration of these criteria. This article advocates for three alternative poverty indices: the interval measure, the ordinal measure, and the sum of ordinals measure. Finally, using the Luxembourg Income Study, it examines the empirical patterns with these three measures, across advanced capitalist democracies from 1967 to 1997. Estimates of these poverty indices are made available.
Buhmann, Brigitte, Lee Rainwater, Guenther Schmaus, and Timothy M. Smeeding. 1988. "Equivalence Scales, Well-Being, Inequality, and Poverty: Sensitivity Estimates Across Ten Countries Using the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) Database." Review of Income and Wealth 34:115-42.
Cox, W. Michael, and Richard Alm. Myths of Rich and Poor 1999
Danziger, Sheldon H., and Daniel H. Weinberg. "The Historical Record: Trends in Family Income, Inequality, and Poverty." Pp. 18-50 in Confronting Poverty: Prescriptions for Change, edited by Sheldon H. Danziger, Gary D. Sandefur, and Daniel. H. Weinberg. Russell Sage Foundation. 1994.
Firebaugh, Glenn. "Empirics of World Income Inequality." American Journal of Sociology (2000) 104:1597-1630. in JSTOR
Gordon, David M. Theories of Poverty and Underemployment: Orthodox, Radical, and Dual Labor Market Perspectives. 1972.
Haveman, Robert H. Poverty Policy and Poverty Research. University of Wisconsin Press 1987.
John Iceland; Poverty in America: A Handbook University of California Press, 2003
Alice O'Connor; "Poverty Research and Policy for the Post-Welfare Era" Annual Review of Sociology, 2000
Osberg, Lars, and Kuan Xu. "International Comparisons of Poverty Intensity: Index Decomposition and Bootstrap Inference." The Journal of Human Resources 2000. 35:51-81.
Paugam, Serge. "Poverty and Social Exclusion: A Sociological View." Pp. 41-62 in ;;The Future of European Welfare, edited by Martin Rhodes and Yves Meny 1998.
Amartya Sen; Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation Oxford University Press, 1982
Sen, Amartya. Development as Freedom (1999)
Smeeding, Timothy M., Michael O'Higgins, and Lee Rainwater. Poverty, Inequality and Income Distribution in Comparative Perspective. Urban Institute Press 1990.
Triest, Robert K. "Has Poverty Gotten Worse?" Journal of Economic Perspectives 1998. 12:97-114.
Publications and journals
Journal of Poverty
Making India Shine, New York Times - Thomas L. Friedman
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Cycle of poverty
Diseases of poverty
Poverty in the United States
The George Foundation
Make Poverty History
The Hunger Site
Organizations and campaigns
National Center for Children in Poverty
The George Foundation
Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP)
The Make Poverty History campaign
17 October: UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty(White Band Day 4)
Center for Global Development
Child Poverty Action Group
Institute for Strategic Clarity Multi-stakeholder Study of Poverty in Guatemala
Mississippi Teacher Corps
World Food Day
Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), an international, DFID-funded partnership of universities, research institutes and NGOs which exists to focus attention on persistent, life-course and intergenerational poverty, to stimulate national and international debate, to deepen understanding of the causes of chronic poverty and to provide research, analysis and policy guidance that will contribute to its reduction.
The word "poor" came via Old French from Latin pauper, and the word "poverty" came via Old French from Latin pauperitas. Latin pauper came from from pau- = "small" and pario = "I give birth to" and originally would have referred to unproductive farmland or female livestock which failed to breed as much as wanted.
Notes and References
Rural Poverty Portal Powered by IFAD
Global Distribution of Poverty Global poverty datasets and map collection
Why Poor Countries are Poor
The End of Poverty - an interview with Jeff Sachs - Yale Economic Review
Social Solutions to Poverty: America's Struggle to Build a Just Society, Scott Myers-Lipton, (2006).
Catholic Encyclopedia "Poverty and Pauperism"
The Anti-Poverty Campaign
Poverty on the Development
Poverty on the World Bank portal
Poverty at the Open Directory Project
Unicef State of the World's Children report 2006 on different kinds of child poverty.
UN DESA - Poverty Eradication
A CICRED book for download on poverty and human fertility
Make Poverty History
Community Action Partnership  America's Poverty Fighting Network
Malaria Disease of Poverty, Andrew Speilman, Harvard University Freeview video by the Vega Science Trust.
Education Is The Key To Reducing Poverty, Omedia
Poverty related Statistics by UN Millennium Project.