The Effects of Poverty

The Effects of Poverty


Poverty is commonly described as the lack of economic resources which contributes to negative effects on the livelihood of people. Several studies on the effects of poverty have been conducted by scholars, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. There are several issues related to poverty including hunger, lack of education, poor health as well as lack of water and housing. In the 21st century, poverty has been a major concern which has several social, economic and health issues on individuals. The Asian and African countries are most affected by poverty with over 162 million people living below the poverty line. By examining the effects of poverty on education, healthcare, agriculture, crime and drug abuse, several interventions can be formulated to solve the issue in the affected countries.


Regardless its roots, poverty has led to devastating outcomes on many people especially in the Asian and African regions. From the most influential definitions, poverty is regarded as lack of economic resources which causes negative social consequences. Poverty can lead to a deterioration of participations and social relations. Economic hardship is the most evident cause of poverty whose effects influences the consumption of life, leisure time activities, standard of life and relationships with other people. The effects and causes of poverty are interrelated such that one problem hardly occurs alone. Poverty is related to a large number of people being unable to meet their basic needs and earn below the country’s median income. It still remains a concern in the 21st century, having several economic, social, and health effects, especially in Asia and Africa, where 162 million are living below the poverty line.

Poverty is classified to be both relative and absolute. According to ( ) absolute poverty is a state exemplified by strict defiance of fundamental human needs including clean water, food, education, information, health and shelter. Besides depending on the access to social services, it also depends on income earned by individuals. It is often regarded as extreme poverty and predefined standard that is continuous overtime in many countries around the world. Relative poverty on the other hand, exists within a country. It is a measure of inequality prevailing in the country rather than deprivation of wealth. Whether it is relative or absolute, poverty is a complex social fact that has adverse effects on human beings and is caused by many reasons.

Effects of Poverty on the Quality of Education

In the contemporary world, education is one of the most important factors of getting a good paying job. However poverty and lack of funding for schools has negatively impacted on the effort to educate children. There is a close relationship between quality education and social economic status (Kohler et al., 2015). Children from lower Social Economic Status (SES) communities and households tend to have limited access to education than those from higher SES. Low SES is associated with poor language, cognitive development, social emotional processing, memory and poor income among children. Lack of quality education has led to an increase in the rate of dropouts which has affected the academic achievement among children which is perpetuated by low- SES.

Poverty affects the quality of education received with children from low income families receiving poor quality education. Most children from low income families attend public schools in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods with underfunded resources. As a result, students are negatively affected academically due to lack of quality education. Schools in low income communities are often overcrowded which affects learning since the small classrooms do no support students in individualized learning. Within the schools, teachers and administrators are unable to supply students with the most essential tools for academic success. This result from the prevailing poverty and lack of funding from the government which negatively affects the quality of education received.

Poverty has a negative impact on school attendance among children from low income families. According to ( ) most schools in the Asian and African countries have more than twenty percent of their school attendances below the standard level. Higher rates of unemployment, low literacy levels among the parents, child labor, and little value placed on education and lack of funds are the main reasons why children from low income families miss schools. Most children also opt to stay away from schools due to untenable conditions. An overwhelming majority of students who miss schools are impoverished dealing with daily pressures including high rates of diseases, taking care of their siblings , frequent family moves in search for employment and violence in their communities. The prevailing attitude in such countries and communities is not school attendances but it is about survival.

There is no policy that can directly cure the effects of poverty on education.  Developing countries need to recognize the need to elevate the quality and standards of their education systems with enough funding from the national governments. Elevation of the quality and standards of education require adequate resources and support from the involved stakeholders. This can be done by coming up with initiatives and rigorous programs that support children from low income families. The programs need commitment from the communities’ schools, governments, stakeholders and taxpayers for them to translate into success for the students. Every selected option should be used to curb the rates of absenteeism and lack of quality education for children living in poverty.

  1. How social structures affect education

In order for children to succeed in their academic performances, enough motivation is a necessity. According to a private research conducted on the performance of children based on their family backgrounds, children from low income families tend to perform poorly in school. This is because their school attendances are normally reduced as a result of time taken to go back home for tuition fees. Children from poor background find it hard to recover for their lost time and most times they find other children to be ahead in studies. As a result most of them develop low motivation towards school and learning. Teachers also do not consider the situations and time lost by students from poor families when setting exams. Therefore, the children have higher possibilities of failing in their exams because of lack of enough time to prepare for exams.

Schools from poor communities often face shortages of resources and structural inadequacies that contribute to the climate of classroom environment. Thus, the quality of instruction is also affected. Kohler et al (2015) alludes there are many important resources that are necessary in promoting a successful school environment including engagement from the community, availability of books, student inclusion, secure funds for meaningful educational experiences and professional development. However, continous economic struggles due to poverty have led to lack of the essential resources for schools in poor communities. This leads to lack of quality education to children from poor households and lower development in the communities.

Inaccessibility to educational institutions is another problem that students from poor backgrounds face. It can be challenging for students to commute from to school. Under most circumstances, students are forced cover long distances to and from school making it difficult for them to continue with education. The idea of getting tired along with hunger, kills the desires, motivation and dreams of living better lives in future for students from poor backgrounds. Thus, most students end up dropping out of school.

Poor infrastructure and environments is another problem encountered by students from poor backgrounds. Most low income earners are forced to live in areas with poor infrastructure and with high crime rate which does not favor education. They also face destruction from both wild animals and domestic animals. These students live at a constant fear of being attacked along their way to school. The destruction makes it hard for them to concentrate in class thus affecting their productivity in schools.

Effects of Poverty on Healthcare

There exists a direct relationship between poverty and health. The causes of poor healthcare among millions of people on the world are rooted in social, political and economic injustices. It perceived that poverty is both a consequence and cause of poor health. The relationship between poverty and poor health is bidirectional and multi-facet. Poor health can be a catalyst for poverty spirals and in turn poverty can perpetuate and create poor health status. This mostly affects both the household and individuals and may have repercussions to the community at large. Poor income families especially those in developing countries are mostly vulnerable and the problems of poor health are considered as inherently part of poverty experience. In many societies, the poorest people always experience higher morbidity levels, higher levels of maternal and child mortality and die younger. This is most often caused by many years of grinding poverty and long-term health issues. According to the poverty rachet model, sickness impoverishes the low income households which are plunged into a progressive spiral of declining economic status and health ( ).The poor health shocks are often continuous for poor people as a result of low capabilities on nutritional status, inability of affording treatment options and hazardous working and living conditions. For instance the average, duration of illness for the poorest individuals in Ethiopia was 1.5 times longer than that of the richest individuals in 2017 ( ).This means that poor people are unable to insure their families against illnesses making them suffer long-term health problems.

Lack of access to insurance and medical care is another factor that is directly linked to poor health. The less fortunate and impoverished people lack resources to access the required healthcare facilities. This jeopardizes their ability to maintain good health. The low income earners are less likely to be offered health insurance covers as employment benefits unlike those who have higher incomes. Without the insurance covers, poor people have little or no access cancer screening and immunization programs as well as no regular checkups on their GP. This makes them to delay or forgo medical assistance until necessary. As a result, seeking assistance in most cases becomes too late for their since their diseases advances to critical conditions. Often they never receive attendance and they end up dying of lionesses that could have been saved with the right medical attention at the right time. This culminates in increased cases of life threatening and chronic illnesses as well as shorter life expectancy among the poor individuals.

  1. Nutrition and wellbeing

The effects of poverty on health are evident nutrition, availability of food and individual wellbeing. The diets of people from lower income households are likely to include insufficient levels of vegetables and fruits and food with high fat intakes. Foods with higher levels of fats normally provide cheaper sources of food for lower income families and consequently it becomes the basis of their diet. This results in the increase of heart diseases, cases of obesity and cancer among the poor people. Also lack of basic sanitation like clean water is often a probable cause of cholera infections. Overcrowding, dismal living conditions lack of screening programs and immunization all add to the development and risk of infections among poor people.

Malnutrition and poverty is directly linked to poverty and it usually falls mainly on children under the age of five years. Conceptually it involves obesity and nutrition. African countries are going through a rapid socio-demographic transition with a distress increase in the incidences of cardiovascular diseases, obesity and diabetes mellitus. With over 800 million people suffering from hunger globally, about 200 million come from Sub-Saharan Africa. The situation is getting worse with more deaths being reported as a result of lack of food (Delisle and Batal, 2016). This increase has been majorly attributed by poverty, ignorance, illiteracy, climate change, population increase and corruption. The discrepancies on food distribution have been a major driving factor that perpetuates lack of food in most areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, the rate of malnutrition among children has been high and known to cause significant health effects.( ) estimated that nearly 35% of children, infants and adolescents in Africa suffer from one form or more forms of malnutrition. The fluctuation of food prices globally is likely to disadvantage the lower income families who lack lifetime earnings hence leading to malnutrition. African women also struggle with malnutrition due to adverse poverty. Malnourished women often have malnourished fetuses during their pregnancy period. Thus, they tend to deliver with low birth weights which often lead to mentally and physically stunted children.

  1. Child Health

Poverty induces serious health risks including mortality especially to children from low income households. Fierman et al (2016) documented the increase of mortality among children from poor backgrounds, primarily due to increased risk of accidental deaths. Poverty is also correlated to increased school absences, children bed days, and decreased maternal rating of child health. The level of chronic health conditions for children from poor households is a part of the causal pathway to mortality, considering that their rate of chronic illness is higher than those from higher income households. Scholars generally agree that children from poor families exhibit higher rates of morbidity due to lack of interventions and increased risk of illness and accidents. The lower odds of early interventions stems from lack of Medicaid. Due to financial difficulties children from poor households lack access to medical facilities which increases the higher rates of hospital admissions. Therefore there is need for redesigning childhood health among people living with poverty, to reduce child mortality and hospitalization rates.

  1. Poverty and spread of HIV/AIDS

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is known to be a significant outcome of poverty with African Countries being the most affected. The Sub-Saharan-Africa hosts about 65% of the world’s HIV cases with more than 1500 people being infected on a daily basis and 10,00 dying due to HIV/AIDS related illnesses (Mufune, 2015). This has been perpetuated by low gross domestic product (GDP) and 60% of the population living below the poverty line. The lack of money, skills and assets strive most people to get their basic needs through risky behaviors such as commercial sex. The consequences of poverty have been also closely associated with sexual trade, migration, teenage marriages and polygamy. Studies show that these variables are directly associated with the spread of HIV/AIDS. The absence of alternative opportunities to earning a living has forced most women to turn to sex without protections hence leading to the higher rates of HIV/AIDS in African countries. Therefore, there is need to reduce and eliminate poverty in Africa through different interventions and strategies to slow down the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Effects of poverty on agricultural productivity

The rise of food prices are substantially caused by a combination of binding land and water constraints, increasing population, climate change and potential increases in demand for bio-fuels. According to Christiansen and Martin (2018), these factors are potentially adverse implications for poverty. Poverty slows down the agricultural growth due lack of funds and empowerment to the poor people. Since agriculture is a source of livelihood in most developing countries it can be used to prevent poverty. According to FAO report ( ), 80% of poor people live in the rural areas and most of them depend on agriculture to make a living. Thus more funds on agricultural development should be set aside to empower famer living in poverty stricken areas to increase their agricultural production. This will help decrease the food prices and hence reduce poverty.

  1. How lack of resources slows down agriculture

The potential for increasing productivity in agriculture is majorly affected by poverty due to lack of availability of resources. Due to lack of genetically modified plants, farming instruments and sufficient funds to buy seeds, there have been lower productivity rates in most countries of the developing nations. There is also strong evidence of underinvestment on agriculture by the governments. This results in lower productivity which leads to expected higher food prices at national and global levels. There is need to develop appropriate mechanisms of eliminating poverty by investing in agricultural production. Developing countries should also adopt new policies for strengthening rural infrastructure and agricultural productivity.

Poverty and crime

There is a direct link between criminality and poverty. Poverty affects crime in a multiple ways. A current study shows that money and happiness and positively connected, hence being unable to meet the basic needs leads to higher levels of stress and frustrations. People living in poverty are forced to indulge in crime out of sheer desperation for happiness and better lives. To them, the outcomes of crime outweigh the risks of being arrested. Due to the higher levels of stress among the poor people, individuals are affected by stress turn to robbery, theft and other violent crimes. Most of poor communities are crime manifested and it is considered a way of earning a living. A crime infested area or community most usually tends to be an impoverished community.

  1. The link between poverty, desperation, and crime

The 15 to 25 age demographic has been experiencing the highest rates of unemployment. In most developing countries, unemployment among the youth exceeds 20%. According to some statistics conducted by Hilton (2016), nearly half of this demographic live in poverty and have the highest chances of committing crime. In United States, over 2 million youth are arrested annually due to larceny theft. The Africa American juveniles are five times more than the rate of whites arrested and twice as much than the rate of Latinos and Hispanics. 45% of the offenders are often the black African-Americans, and 27% are Hispanics (Short, 2018). Most of the offenders resolve to drug peddling in order to meet their family needs while other do it to gain wealth faster. The major cause of committing these crimes results from poverty.

  1. Solutions to poverty

There are several solutions to dealing with poverty. One solution is making improvements on the current policies and solutions. The levels of welfare in the developing countries should be improved to deal with crime reduction. Community policing is a good mechanism that can help in fighting crime related behaviors. In general, there is a need for appropriate interventions to reduce poverty in lower income families and communities to prevent more cases of crime.

Poverty and drug abuse

Poverty predisposes to drug abuse and vice versa. ( ) argue that poverty and drug addiction go hand in hand. People living in poverty often resolve to drug use a way of coping with poor ling conditions, deal with their financial stress and cope with physical or emotional abuse. A lot of drugs are easily accessible in the poor communities since people sell drugs to overcome poverty. There is a strong correlation between homelessness and substance abuse. Most homeless people use drugs to cope with stress and poor lifestyles that they encounter daily. Constant use of drugs can lead to addiction. As a result, most poor people tend to sell their properties to get drugs which in turn lead to poverty. The effects of drugs are adverse including mental illness, lower productivity, suicides and deaths. The most significant risk is lack of funds for treatment and access to medical care.

  1. Unemployment causing desperation

Unemployment is another major cause of poverty that can lead to desperation. Due to desperation and hopelessness for better life many people tend to use drugs in order to relieve their stress. More drug users are perceived to be among the unemployed people. Unemployment causes lack of money which leads to frustrations, unstable families and mental disorders. Therefore, most youths result to drug use to cope with life and avoid scrutinizations from family members and friends. Lower income families should be given priorities in terms of housing, employment and food security(Silverman, Holtyn, and Morrison, 2016).This will provide them with sufficient needs and improve their standards of life hence reduce poverty.


The effects of poverty are adverse with the Asian and African countries are affected most. There are two types of poverty including relative and absolute. Poverty has several effects and implications on on education, healthcare, agriculture, crime, drug abuse and unemployment. The implications of poverty have affected not only the economy of developing countries but it has also increate the rates of mortality, mental illness and lower productivity in agriculture.  Several interventions can be formulated to solve the issue in the affected countries. The most effective strategies to be used is through agriculture and education.



Claro, S., Paunesku, D., & Dweck, C. S. (2016). Growth mindset tempers the effects of poverty on academic achievement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(31), 8664-8668.

Christiansen, L., & Martin, W. (2018). Agriculture, structural transformation, and poverty reduction: Eight new insights.

Delisle, H., & Batal, M. (2016). The double burden of malnutrition associated with poverty. The Lancet, 387(10037), 2504-2505.

Fierman, A. H., Beck, A. F., Chung, E. K., Tschudy, M. M., Coker, T. R., Mistry, K. B., … & Flanagan, P. J. (2016). Redesigning health care practices to address childhood poverty. Academic Pediatrics, 16(3), S136-S146

Hinton, E. (2016). From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime. Harvard University Press.

Howard, C., Freeman, A., Wilson, A., & Brown, E. (2017). Poverty. Public Opinion Quarterly, 81(3), 769-789.

Kohler, M., Christensen, L., Kilgo, J., Broughton, A., McInerney, N., & Wang, W. (2015). Among the Periodicals. Childhood Education, 89(4), 270-274.

Mufune, P. (2015). Poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa: Specifying the connections. Social Theory & Health, 13(1), 1-29.

Silverman, K., Holtyn, A. F., & Morrison, R. (2016). The therapeutic utility of employment in treating drug addiction: Science to application. Translational issues in psychological science, 2(2), 203.

Short Jr, J. F. (2018). Poverty, ethnicity, and violent crime. Routledge.




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