ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why Is There Still Much Poverty in Even the Richest Nations?

Updated on April 28, 2019
rickzimmerman profile image

Rick consumes current information about science, technology, culture, and the ways our lives and world keep changing, and shares insights.

Many never have enough.
Many never have enough. | Source

What Causes Poverty?

Poverty in otherwise 'rich' nations: what causes it?

There are, unfortunately, all kinds of poverty. The poverty of losing a good paying job, or of losing a bare-subsistence job, or of being unemployed or under-employed for years, or of having little or no prospect of ever finding a good job. The poverty of not having health care, or of being seriously ailing and in deep medical debt. The poverty of not being able to afford an apartment, or of being homeless, or of being deeply underwater in a mortgage. The poverty of not having the right education or skills, or the poverty of never being able to even hope to earn the right education or skills. The poverty of running out of food at the end of the month, or of running out of food at the end of this meal or the next.

It seems there have always been those who are poor, and those who persistently remain poor, even in many of the wealthiest nations of the world. Poverty is such an intractable problem because it has many varied and pernicious causes.

Causes: Part 1

Disparity in income and lifestyle among sectors of a nation's economy contributes to, and often entrenches, poverty. In the so-called 'Third World' African nation of Namibia, the richest 10% of the population has an annual income more than 100 times that of the poorest 10% of the population. Yet, even in the United States, the richest 10% earn roughly 14 times the poorest 10%. And that income disparity is even more stark and severe when one looks at individuals rather than the population in aggregate. In the United States in 2017, the average CEO of a Fortune 500 company earned more than 360 times his/her average employee. With such vast disparity in income — and overall accumulated wealth — the very rich have tremendous power and capability to insure that they become ever richer, and that others become ever poorer.

Dislocation also serves to increase and sustain poverty. Jobs are often lost due to introductions of new technologies and practices, and to efficiencies achieved through mergers, acquisitions, and refined business models. Regional prevailing wage structures relocate jobs south or west or beyond national borders. Some cities grow and diversify and thrive, while other shrink and stagnate, hemorrhaging jobs. As specific higher-paying and more attractive jobs are dislocated or relocated, lower-paying and less attractive jobs become the only choices available to many. Thus, a downward spiral occurs.

Inequity — whether of gender, racial, ethnic, nationalistic, or cultural character — can further exacerbate poverty. When the better jobs become scarcer, many instinctively fall back to a tribal mentality of 'us' versus 'them', with broadening and persistent poverty being one of the many long-term results.

It can be difficult to scrape together more.
It can be difficult to scrape together more. | Source

More Causes

Unfairness can also often arises in the jobs marketplace. As those who are so inclined revert to the tribal model, some are favored for jobs or opportunity or advancement, and others are disfavored and thus locked in stasis, with little or no prospect of an improving future.

Corruption throughout business and government also contributes to a persistence of poverty. It may be a CFO who embezzles corporate funds, a doctor who commits Medicaid fraud, or a state representative taking kickbacks to promote specific legislation. All siphon funds that would otherwise contribute meaningfully to the economy and the jobs it can create and sustain. They may also be siphoning benefits that would otherwise accrue to the most impoverished among us.

Legislation that may be well-intentioned can also inadvertently worsen the effects and trajectory of poverty. Our nation's flood insurance program, for example, permits the wealthy to replace and rebuild structures in repeatedly flooded areas, while poorer neighbors suffer catastrophic losses of assets and belongings.

Still More Causes

The infrastructure of our cities and towns can also play a key role in determining the prevalence and spread of poverty. While a new multi-lane expressway may connect wealthy residential districts with a thriving business core, it may also slash the property values, lifestyle and long-term prospects of many residents abutting the right-of-way. The locations of ports, airports, water treatment facilities, utility plants and other such facilities also typically have significant economic impact on their neighborhoods.

Charity often provides one of the few temporary reliefs to the effects of poverty. Food banks, free health clinics, subsidized transportation, and donated goods and services enable many in poverty to sustain a reasonable existence. However, the structure and nature of charity organizations and their methods can also inadvertently serve to perpetuate poverty's impact. For example, a public school system's hot meals program may actually undercut local or regional support for school levies essential to the fight against impoverishment.

Education can — like charity — be a double-edged sword. A better education and the acquisition of needed skills are the best tools to enable individuals to escape lifelong poverty. But many educational systems do a poor job of preparing students for real jobs in the real world. Employers may also attach too much importance to educational credentials, like just the right diploma, and too little to the actual capabilities of a job candidate.

How much confers comfort? Security? Affluence?
How much confers comfort? Security? Affluence? | Source

The Costs of Poverty

The persistence of poverty has tremendous costs for the world's economies — and thus for all of us who are affected daily by our own national economy. It is estimated that only one-quarter of the entire global adult population is employed full-time; all others are either unemployed or underemployed in part-time work. Many adults have in fact given up looking for work. Clearly, the GDP of any nation would rise if more adults were employed full-time in satisfactory jobs. And GDP has become our metric for the wealth of a nation, and thereby wealth of its citizens.

The tremendous machinery of poverty — the numerous jobs programs, subsidies, food banks, charities, training, education, tax incentives, health care, related racial and ethnic and cultural strife, and so on — also consumes a sizable portion of national GDP just to keep grinding along from year to year. Whatever we can collectively due to reduce poverty and its pernicious effects will ultimately help humanity as well as our collective wealth and well-being.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • mtkomori profile image

      Takako Komori 

      4 weeks ago from Yokohama, Japan

      I`ve been interested in this topic on poverty for a while. Thanks for alerting me.

      I think the biggest problem is that income disparity is increasing in the so-called richest nations. There is also a strong tendency for the rich to become richer and the poor to become poorer.

      Japan is one of the nations where poverty is on the increase especially among single parent households, senior citizens, and children. 1 in 7 children are in poverty. Incredible, given the fact that Japan has the third highest GNP in the world, behind the U.S. and China!

      One thing that is of big concern is that poverty is "handed down" to the next generation, that is, if the parents are poor, so will their children. Education, as you point out, can be an important tool to escape this poverty but it`s not that easy. Where does the student get the necessary financial support if his/her parents are poor? The children in poverty right now are likely to be poor as adults so something has to be done to help them immediately.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)