How poverty started in USA and Why is poverty higher in the U.S. than in other countries?
Poverty is a state of deprivation, lacking the usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. The most common measure of poverty in the U.S. is the "poverty threshold" set by the U.S. government. This measure recognizes poverty as a lack of those goods and services commonly taken for granted by members of mainstream society. The official threshold is adjusted for inflation using the consumer price index.
Most Americans will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75. Poverty rates are persistently higher in rural and inner city parts of the country as compared to suburban areas.
How is Poverty Defined in America?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 Current Population Report, 46.2 million Americans are considered impoverished – 15 percent of the country’s population. Approximately 16.4 million American children – 22 percent of the population younger than 18 – live in poverty. The rate for people 65 and older is 8.7 percent.
Majority of peoples living in poverty in USA are from minorities, households with females as the heads of households and low educated persons (low educated females are in higher risk to be in poverty than mens)
The question that arises is why is this so? Surely it is not because Americans fail to work hard. In fact, studies have shown that Americans tend to be at the top internationally in terms of the average number of hours worked per week. Rather, we would argue that in contrast to many other countries, the United States has failed to provide the kinds of policies and programs that are designed to prevent or reduce poverty. As the sociologist David Brady writes, “Societies make collective choices about how to divide their resources
These choices are acted upon in the organizations and states that govern the societies, and then become institutionalized through the welfare states. Where poverty is low, equality has been institutionalized. Where poverty is widespread, as most visibly demonstrated by the United States, there has been a failure to institutionalize equality.”
Despite the popular rhetoric about vast amounts of tax dollars being spent on public assistance, the American welfare state, and particularly its social safety net, can be more accurately described in minimalist terms. Compared to other Western industrialized countries, the United States devotes far fewer resources to programs aimed at assisting the economically vulnerable. In fact, the U.S. allocates a smaller proportion of its GDP to social welfare programs than virtually any other industrialized country. As a result, the United States has often been described as being a “reluctant welfare state.” The political scientist Charles Noble writes, “The U.S. welfare state is striking precisely because it is so limited in scope and ambition.”
Author: Normunds Lokenbahs (LatConsul)