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Causes and Effects of Poverty

Updated on February 25, 2016

Causes of Poverty: A picture

Expression of poverty. The effects or adverse effects of poverty.
Expression of poverty. The effects or adverse effects of poverty. | Source


Poverty has been a problem which human race in general has been fighting to conquer. When a person is poor, people around him takes him as nobody and the people will not like to have anything in common with the poor one. The reason is because people believe that nothing good can come from him. But, what happened when the poor one moves from rags to riches (when he becomes rich and wealthy)? What happens when his condition changes from zero to hero? When he becomes rich, you will notice that even the ‘cockroach’ that operates in market place will like to be related to him because he is now rich and something good can come out of him at that point. It shows that poverty is like leprosy which is contagious and nobody will like to get contacted with it, but riches is like ‘magnet’ which attracts anything that comes across its way.

What is poverty? What is the definition of poverty? Poverty is defined as the lack of minimum food and shelter necessary for maintaining life? It can also be referred to as absolute poverty. Poverty can also be said to be the state of being absolutely poor. When one earns less and lacks shelter to the extent that he or she cannot feed properly and meet up with the demand of life, the person is said to be poor. This is one of the reasons why there are many bachelors all round the world when they are due to get married with the opposite sexes. Some continued being bachelors until death because they do not have money which they will use to pair up with the one they would have called their wives. In some cases, the age mates of the bachelors who are married insults those who have been ‘perpetual bachelors’ as a result of poverty.

There are many causes and effects of poverty, which are to be discussed in this article. These causes are numerous and most of them are discussed in this write-up. The effects of poverty are the consequences of poverty. So, this topic can also be titled causes and consequences of poverty. Justice is done to the causes and effects of poverty on other sub-headings.

Poverty Review

Poverty has been a very big problem in African continent. It is one of the major challenges in Nigeria. Africa is the Continent that has been embraced by poverty for many years. Most African continents are developing and poverty is of high increase in the territory. The poorest country in the world in 2013 is Democratic Republic of Congo (International Monetary Fund). Democratic Republic of Congo has GDP of $394.25 per capita in the year 2013. GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product and International Monetary Fund use it as criterion for judging how rich or poor any nation could be. Gross Domestic Product per capita measures the average welfare and affluence of citizens that live in a particular country.

Still in line with poverty level in African Continent, in the same year, 2013, the second and third poorest countries in the world were Zimbabwe and Burundi respectively. Zimbabwe was the second poorest country in the world on that year with GDP per capita of $589.46. The third poorest country in the world, Burundi, attended total GDP per capital of $ 648.58. Other African continents that occupy the bottom of the poorest countries in the world are Liberia, Eritrea, Central African, Niger, and Malawi.

According to the 2011 UN's 2011 Human Development Report, 65% of the people that live in Sub-Saharan Africa are poor. This is evidence that Africa is the most benefactor of poverty. In 2011, Mali and Ethiopia were the world’s 13th and 14th poorest countries respectively (2011 UN's 2011 Human Development Report).

Which Country is the poorest country in Asian continent? According to 2013 report by International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook Database, Afghanistan is reported the poorest in Asia. The country was ranked 175 out of the 184 countries surveyed. Afghanistan had total GDP per capital of $ 1,072.19 in 2013. The country experienced a lot of wars and that is one of the causes of their high poverty state. Notwithstanding the fact that Afghanistan has high poverty ranking, the world’s richest country came from the same continent it belong. In the same year, the richest country in the world was Qatar and it is located in Asia. The country has a GDP per capita of $105,091.42.

In Latin America, the poorest country from that region in 2013 is Haiti. It was ranked 165 out of 184 surveyed countries in the list of the world’s richest and poorest countries. Haiti has Gross Domestic Product per capita of $1,358.10. When 165 is subtracted from 184, the result is 19. This implies that Haiti is the 19th poorest country in the world as of 2013 report.

The poorest country in Australian continent is Papua New Guinea based on 2013 poverty report of nations. The country took number 139 on the table of the 184 surveyed countries on that year which makes it the 45th poorest country in the world. The country has GDP per capita of $2,896.83 on the same year. Also, Papua New Guinea falls under a continent called Oceania Continent. It is the poorest country in this continent.

European continent is basically made up of forty-seven countries. Notwithstanding the fact that Europe works hard to make sure that no country in the continent bears the mark of poverty on it, a nation is identified as the poorest in the continent. The poorest country in Europe in 2013 as published by International Monetary Fund is Moldova. The country had Gross Domestic Product per capita of $3,613.35 in 2013. It is the 51st poorest country in the world. According to United Nations Development Union, about 8.1 per cent of the population of the country is poor from 2000 to 2007. This means that about 8.1% of the citizens of Moldova live below $1.25 poverty line in a day. Any who earns and lives below US$1.25 daily is regarded as being poor.

Bolivia is known to be the poorest country in South-American continent of the world. Other countries that belong to the continent are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In 2013 report, the country has Gross Domestic Product per capita of 5,330.64 US Dollars. It occupied position of 121 out of the 184 surveyed countries in 2013, and this makes the country 63rd poorest country in the world as reported by International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Causes of Poverty

It is better to be a farmer that cultivates with crude faming equipments and earns less in return than to be poor. Poverty is not someone’s brother or sister and therefore is to be exiled. The major causes of poverty are:

  • Poor education;
  • Inadequate wages or salaries;
  • Unemployment;
  • Divorce (feminization of poverty); and
  • Environmental problem.

Poor Education: This is an important heading when it comes to what can be a cause to poverty among human race. Many people are living in poverty in various parts of the world is because they were not given the privilege to attend good schools that can fetch them good jobs and boost their earnings. Because of this, they earn less than $1.25 per day from any function they get themselves involved.

Also, there are those who went to school and still became poor because of the standard of school they passed through which do not impart much into them. This has become a big problem as many who entered into education system rushed out with little or even no practical skill. This makes them stay with their parents for years without anything to do so that they earn money as reward for their efforts. It is good to upgrade institutions of higher learning to close the gap of poverty among those that attended school. Poor education is a major problem with education sector of Africa.

Inadequate wages or salaries: Wages are payments made to workers on daily or weekly basis. Salaries are fixed payments made to employees of companies or organizations by their employers on monthly basis. The question is: are all these salaries and wages able to solve the individual needs of the employees? Can the payments made to the workers give them good shelter or are they as good as being jobless? These questions are what are important when payments are made to worker working under any organization or firm.

There are a lot of workers who work in many establishments but the payments made to them are nothing to write home about. This is not to be treated with kids’ glove because the payments do not help matter. Of what importance is any payment when it could not fetch something good for me in return? Instead of the payments to move the people from “zero to hero” (make them rich), it appears as if the people are moving closer to ‘embrace’ worse poverty level. Because of the inadequate salary, the president of United States of America in his interview with the President of CNN, Jake Tapper, promised to raise the wage of government contract workers to $10.10 per hour (CNN Exclusive: Obama Says Walmart, Apple, Others to Help Jobless).

Unemployment: This can simply be defined as the state of being unemployed. It is the state of being with no job when one is ready and willing to have job to do and get paid for the duty performed. It is a global issued that most occupants of the world have been facing for many years.

In United States of America, and other developed parts of the world, it is a pressing issue facing the government and the citizens. The president of the United State of America, Obama, is working hard to see that things are done rightly when it comes to unemployment in the country. In an interview made by President of Cable News Network (CNN) with President United States on 30th January, 2014, he said: “what we have done is to gather 300 companies, just to start with, including, some of the top 50 companies in the country, companies like Walmart, and Apple, Ford and others, to say let’s establish best practices”. The record of the unemployed citizens of United States of America in December 2013 is 6.7 per cent of the nation’s population. Roughly 4 million of the population is considered long-time unemployed.

Divorce (feminization of poverty): Divorce is legal dissolution of marriage between husband and wife. The type of poverty that emerges from divorce is called feminization of poverty. This is a problem and that is one of the reasons that make many wise wives to hold their husbands tight to avoid stories that touch the heart. Even when the husbands are the ones at faults, the intelligent wives find ways to make amend because they know that when there is any divorce they (the wives) will be in problem, and poverty can be one of the problems they may find themselves into.

When there is separation between husband and the wife, the wife who relied on the husband can be “visited” by poverty and you know anyone that is being visited by it never remains the same. The women find it difficult to feed themselves and the children they will be taking care of if they have given birth to any at that moment. Because the women were not working when they were in their husbands home, they become poor for a long time until they finally find jobs to engage themselves.

Divorce does not pay and is never a way of solving marital misunderstanding. It has done more harm than good. Some of the street children we see today are in that condition because of the poverty that resulted due to divorce.

Environmental problem: Environmental cause of poverty can be viewed from many channels. The problem of poverty can be caused by the country which one finds his or herself. The economic hardship can be a cause of poverty in that location. For instance, Nigeria as a country located in West Africa witnesses economic hardship and it is a cause of the poverty of her citizens. According to World Bank Data in 2012, Nigeria has a population of 168.8 Million. The same source reported that poverty headcount ratio at

national poverty line (% of population) of Nigeria was 46% in 2010. According to poverty indicator, about 50, 739, 143.0 rural area occupants of Nigeria were poor in 2010. The economic freedom of many countries is poor and it contributes to high poverty.

Environmental problem can be a cause of poverty that is related to agricultural practices. Many farmers can be poor as a result of lack of rainfall on the land. Due to this, they can be moved to the level of absolute poverty because there is no rain to water the crops they have already cultivated. Some would have involved in farming in their different locations but the problem is due to inadequate rainfall in their locations.

Democratic Republic of Congo poorest in 2013

Poverty in DRG. Democratic Republic of Congo as the world poorest nation. Poverty treats them bad.
Poverty in DRG. Democratic Republic of Congo as the world poorest nation. Poverty treats them bad. | Source

The Effects of Poverty

Poverty results into many things that can affect human population negatively or worsen certain situations. The effects or consequences of poverty are as follow:

  • Poor health
  • Poor or no education
  • Death
  • Child Abuse
  • Crime

Poor health: Where will a poor person see the money to go for medical check-up frequently to know the state of his or her health? You go for medical check-up regularly when you have the money to pay the doctor that will conduct the test on your body. Generally, poverty encourages poor health. One may have interest in taking fruits so that the body system will be immune against disease but will not be able to do that if there is no enough money to get the fruit for his consumption.

Many children suffer from one disease to another because of the high poverty level in the vicinity. Malnutrition is of high increase in many poor countries of the world and it is one of the consequences of early child death. Child morality is a problem and one of the ways to limit it is by eradication of poverty.

Poor or no education: Truly, a poor does not go to school. Where will he get the money to get educated? The truth is that it is how the disease will be transferred from father to children until the bondage of poverty is broken in the hand of any of the children or the generation. Where will the money for expensive text books and materials for practical functions come from? It is when a student has money that he will think of textbooks to buy for his or her study.

Parents who are poor do not have money to send their children to school because of the problem of poverty. The parents first use the available money to buy food for the family before you think of primary or secondary school enrolment. In most African countries, there is poor enrolment of citizens of different nations because of high level of poverty.

Death: Poverty can lead people to death. As people say that poverty is a disease, when the disease is not cured on time, it can kill the person that is suffering from it. Bringing it down to the human life, poverty leads people to starvation which later leads to their death.

The life expectancies of rich countries of the world are not the same with that of poor countries of the world. That of rich countries is higher than that of poorer countries because the rich have the money to take care of themselves, while the poorer have little or nothing. The life expectancy of Liberia in 2009 was 55.48 years (World Bank Data). Liberia is the world’s 4th poorest nation based on 2013 poverty report. From the data of the life expectancy, it implies that that average Liberians die at the age of 55.48 years. So, poverty can be the cause of early death in the country when compared with that of rich countries. Nigeria, which is another country located in African continent has life expectancy of 50.9 years (2009 report) and can be traced to the poverty level in the country. In 2013, the country is ranked 44th poorest country in the world. United States of America has high life expectancy. This is because of the good economic environment, and low poverty level. The life expectancy of United States of America (USA) is 78.2 years (2009 World Bank Report). Owing to that, USA is the 4th richest country in the world (International Monetary Fund Report in 2013). In conclusion, as poverty level of countries increase, the death rate may increase.

Child Abuse: Child abuse simply mean physical maltreatment of child by people of higher ages. Because of child abuse which is of high increase in the recent time, governments and individuals are working hard to ensure that children are not maltreated in any way.

But, poverty is one of the major causes of child abuse. Some parents expose their children to danger in the course of making effort to see that both ends meet. For instance, parents who are poor send their children to roads where the hawk for goods and can accidentally be knocked down by vehicles, which most of them die at that spot. Some of them carry sachet water and sell to travellers on express roads. During these functions performed by the poor children, the young female gender among them may fall into the hands of hungry men who seriously “enter” into the inner parts of their body, found in-between the legs, and seriously injure the poor girls in the process of forcing in their “things” into that of the girls.

Crime: According to Concise Oxford English Dictionary, crime is an action which constitutes a serious offence against an individual or the state and is punishable by Law. Poverty brings about corruption in countries. Poverty can force people to indulge in criminal acts. Because there is no money, people forced themselves to make money through cut-corners.

The armed robbers that operate on different highways do not operate because they do not love their lives; rather conditions of poverty can force them into that. When one is poor, a lot of evil thoughts can flow into him and subsequently leads him into robbery, which can end his existence in this life. Most people take the risk of robbery because they seriously believe that it is what will make them come out of the dungeon of poverty.


Money is the beauty of every man. Nobody prays to be poor because it is dangerous and risky to be poor. Poor people are regarded as nobody in the society and people prefer being recognized and respected. This topic explained causes and effects of poverty. These causes and effects were explained with important instances. This work is supported with good research on the poor countries of the world. Before I drop my pen, it is important to know that the world’s second richest country or nation is Luxembourg, and the country is from European continent. In summary, all poor people cannot die poor rather good efforts can change the situation.


  • International Monetary Fund on 2013 Poverty Report
  • The World Richest and Poorest Countries by Global Finance
  • Causes and Effects of Poverty by Wikipedia
  • Poverty in Moldova by Wikipedia
  • CNN News on the Topic: Obama Says Walmart, Apple, Others to Help Jobless on January 30, 2014.
  • World Development Indicators by World Bank
  • Countries Life Expectancy by World Bank Data
  • Life Expectancy Report of United States of America by World Bank Data


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