Staying poor isn’t just a matter of having too little money—it’s about a series of unstable circumstances that build upon each other.
It’s true that poverty affects people of all races, genders, and nationalities, but it’s also true that poverty—especially deep, persistent, intergenerational poverty—plagues some groups more than others. That’s because poverty isn’t just a matter of making too little money to pay the bills or living in a bad neighborhood—it’s about a series of circumstances and challenges that build upon each other, making it difficult to create stability and build wealth.
How Poverty Changes the Brain
You saw the pictures in science class—a profile view of the human brain, sectioned by function. The piece at the very front, right behind where a forehead would be if the brain were actually in someone’s head, is the pre-frontal cortex. It handles problem-solving, goal-setting, and task execution. And it works with the limbic system, which is connected and sits closer to the center of the brain. The limbic system processes emotions and triggers emotional responses, in part because of its storage of long-term memory.
When a person lives in poverty, a growing body of research suggests the limbic system is constantly sending fear and stress messages to the prefrontal cortex, which overloads its ability to solve problems, set goals, and complete tasks in the most efficient ways.
Towards the End of Poverty - The Economist
PEW Research Articles
UN Envoy Shares Grim Poverty Report
Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity in the US
Poverty Overview from the US Dept of Agriculture
Census Bureau Income & Poverty
Poverty is Sexist
“Nowhere on earth do women have as many opportunities as men. Nowhere. But for girls and women in the poorest countries, that inequality is amplified,” the organization’s website reads. “We won’t end extreme poverty until we break down the barriers holding girls and women back.” Bono’s ONE Campaign.
UN Sustainable Development
World Bank Poverty Data
Poverty | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
World Population by Income
The Scarcity Trap: Why We Keep Digging When We're Stuck in a Hole
Why It Matters
WHY IT MATTERS
What’s the goal here?
To end poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030. Why?
More than 700 million people still live in extreme poverty and are struggling to fulfil the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few.
That’s a lot of people.
Yes. The overwhelming majority of people living on less than $1.90 a day live in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and they account for about 70 per cent of the global total of extremely poor people.
Lower middle-income countries, including China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria, are home to about half of the global poor.
However, this issue also affects developed countries. Right now there are 30 million children growing up poor in the world’s richest countries.
Why is there so much poverty in the world?
Poverty has many dimensions, but its causes include unemployment, social exclusion, and high vulnerability of certain population to disasters, diseases and other phenomena which prevent them from being productive.
I’m not poor. Why should I care about other people’s economic situation?
There are many reasons, but in short, because as human beings, our well- being is linked to each other. Growing inequality is detrimental to economic growth and undermines social cohesion, increasing political and social tensions and, in some circumstances, driving instability and conflicts. Can we actually achieve this goal?
Yes. To end extreme poverty worldwide in 20 years, economist Jeffrey Sachs calculated that the total cost per year would be about $175 billion. This represents less than one percent of the combined income of the richest countries in the world.
So what can I do about it?
If you are a young person: Your active engagement in policymaking can make a difference in addressing poverty. It ensures that your rights are promoted and that your voice is heard, that inter-generational knowledge is shared, and that innovation and critical thinking are encouraged at all ages to support transformational change in people’s lives and communities.
If you are a policymaker: Governments can help create an enabling environment to generate productive employment and job opportunities for the poor and the marginalized. They can formulate strategies and fiscal policies that stimulate pro-poor growth, and reduce poverty.
If you work in the private sector: The private sector, as an engine of economic growth, has a major role to play in determining whether the growth it creates is inclusive and hence contributes to poverty reduction. It can promote economic opportunities for the poor, focusing on segments of the economy where most of the poor are active, namely on micro and small enterprises and those operating in the informal sector.
If you are part of the science and academic community: The academic and education community have a major role in increasing the awareness about the impact of poverty. Science provides the foundation for new and sustainable approaches, solutions and technologies to tackle the challenges of reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development. The contribution of science to end poverty has been significant. For example, it has enabled access to safe drinking water, reduced deaths caused by water-borne diseases, and improved hygiene to reduce health risks related to unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation.
To find out more about Goal
#1 and other Sustainable Development Goals visit: