How Does Poverty Affect Society?
Undoubtedly, poverty impacts individual lives. It can hinder one’s health, education, and ability to succeed in life. But how does poverty affect society as a whole?
Childhood poverty can have life-long consequences that prevent children from reaching their full potential.
“Children who do not reach their full potential cannot contribute fully to social, political and economic growth,” says UNICEF, “and those who grow up in poverty are more likely to be poor when they are older, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and disadvantage.”1
Thus, poverty impacts society because of a lack of contribution from individuals who are too consumed with mere survival to pursue better lives for themselves or their communities. Encumbered by the fight for survival, impoverished people are not free to contribute to society, form ideas or solutions, or make a positive impact on the communities around them. Who knows what innovative ideas for today’s problems might be spawned if these individuals were given the opportunity to dream and thrive.
Poverty also endangers health, both for individuals and for the surrounding community.
Impoverished people are more likely to suffer from poor health and be sick.2 For example, malnutrition, common among the impoverished, leads to a weakened immune system.3 Impoverished people also often lack the education, proper sanitation and proper hygiene necessary to prevent disease. These factors can cause disease to spread more easily in a community, impacting society as a whole.
According to the World Health Organization, “Ill health is an obstacle to social and economic development.”4 Poor health and frequent sickness negatively affects productivity and one’s ability to be a contributing member of society.
Conversely, “Good health leads to sustainable development, which helps whole communities combat poverty,” said ONE, a global organization campaigning to end extreme poverty.
“When people are able to access health care and lead healthy lives, they can focus on education and work, allowing people to lift themselves—and potentially their communities—out of poverty.”5
Poverty can also lead to substance abuse and crime.6
Desperate to survive, impoverished individuals may be driven to theft or other illegal means of obtaining money or food. Also, unsavory characters may prey on the impoverished and their desperation, promising jobs or other opportunities out of poverty only to lead them into a trap of trafficking.
These are just a few ways poverty impacts society. In light of the suffering of impoverished communities, organizations such as GFA World are working to transform communities by empowering men, women and children to improve their lives and escape poverty. GFA World does so through a multi-faceted community development approach that improves communities as well as individual lives.
1 “Ending child poverty.” UNICEF. https://www.unicef.org/eca/what-we-do/ending-child-poverty. Accessed November 12, 2021.
2 “Poverty and social determinants.” World Health Organization: Europe. https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/urban-health/activities/poverty-and-social-determinants. Accessed November 15, 2021.
3 “Nutrition and Immunity.” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nutrition-and-immunity/. Accessed November 16, 2021.
4 “Poverty and social determinants.” World Health Organization: Europe. https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/urban-health/activities/poverty-and-social-determinants. Accessed November 15, 2021.
5 Fatai, Razaq and Sadof Alexander. “Extreme poverty: A problem demanding many solutions.” ONE. https://www.one.org/international/blog/extreme-poverty-solutions/. April 17, 2020.
6 “Effects of Poverty on Society, Health, Children and Violence.” Restless Stories. https://www.restlessstories.com/poverties/effects-of-poverty. March 7, 2011.