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World Poverty,

a look at causes and solutions.

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Poverty has existed for a very long time, and to varying extents it remains worldwide still now in this 21st century. But to 2015 the 21st century has seen China especially and also India and Latin America most reducing poverty - with Africa, USA and UK doing worst with any economic progress chiefly benefiting the rich but maybe this will slowly improve somewhat hopefully. In primitive societies it was most often the case that everybody was equally poor, but more modern societies have generally tended to involve poverty being confined to an often substantial minority only - though this can often harm those concerned even more than universal poverty does. Poverty is very harmful to those affected including their health and lifespan, and is also very harmful to societies and to the world generally and it is not necessary.
2015 has many countries still in a recession which since 2008 has generally increased poverty. The UN food agency reported world food prices reaching their highest level ever recorded, though late 2014 saw this moderating but still not averting hunger for many. And 2015 does see extreme famine in parts of Africa now especially affecting Somalia. Recent years have seen richer G20 countries doing £trillion-plus bailouts of their misrun banks, while charities call for more aid for poor countries to prevent the economic crisis from destroying more poor people's lives as many poorer countries are being hit by dramatic declines in trade and foreign investment. But the UN is now reporting that recent cuts in aid by richer countries and poor investment practices have been increasing poverty in Africa, and worldwide now the poor are facing increased hardship. In 2014 the World Bank reduced resources to combat world poverty, so keeping it relevant means it now focusing mainly on areas where other donors are reluctant to go, such as fragile and conflict-affected states expected by 2015 to be home to half of the world's poorest people. (See http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/world-bank-ties-strategy-poverty-142103892.html) The present economic downturn has also increased the abandonment or murder of children and of elderly women in some poorer countries. Often with 'justifications' that they are witches or devil-possessed, with total annual numbers estimated at millions. see - Victims.

And 2010 saw a UK Deputy Prime Minister backing the old unhelpful view that 'poverty affects children little if they have good parenting' and also UK and other governments supporting immigration from low-wage countries for a growing and younger population - though the false claimed benefits of poverty and cheap labour only discourage business innovation progress and favour business inefficiency. Now many governments are pledging to 'eliminate global poverty' by 2030, though it is maybe not as good a target as it looks. The most hopeful fact is that in recent years poverty has been greatly cut in China and somewhat in India and Latin America, and now China is helping most with cutting poverty elsewhere. But for the latest news on 21st century famine do see www.fews.net

Reduction in poverty in China has been impressive and has been based on limiting population and modernisation. Some other countries are also aiming for substantial reduction in poverty like China based on modernisation - though if they can reach the same level of success without limiting population only time will tell. However many poor countries seem very unlikely to see reductions in poverty soon, having strong forces that are often religious which are opposed to any modernisation.
One measure of world poverty is given in the FAO poverty statistics map below - this is a good but slightly dated measure, you can compare it with the less dated World Bank world poverty maps in our Poor in a Rich World section ;
child poverty

Absolute poverty involves people and their children having extreme difficulty in merely surviving. Such poverty at its worst can involve hunger amounting to starvation, often combined with inadequate shelter or housing and clothing. Absolute poverty has been common in more primitive societies, and is still common in many Third World countries in Africa, Asia and South America especially where it can afflict the majority of the population.
But many of today's richer societies like the USA and UK have a poor who are a minority and suffer relative poverty - which generally involves the inability to obtain social necessities available to the majority and is often intensified by social exclusion. In a society where 90% rely on their own computer and car, then those who cannot afford these things may function badly and are poor and may well be ostracised or socially excluded (unlike someone richer who chooses to not have such things and may merely be considered eccentric).
Hence the answer to what is poverty is not simple, as poverty does come in different forms and extents, allowing different definitions of poverty, but it is always harmful to those concerned and especially harmful to children whose biological development and survival chances can also be greatly harmed. Poverty itself means misery to the poor and it also greatly limits their freedom of life choices and makes them vulnerable to other various nasty forms of exploitation including child exploitation. Poverty can also be very harmful to society as a whole, insofar as it can maintain a divided conflict society where the poorer conflict with the richer and acceptance of poverty generally encourages social badness rather than goodness.
Two issues have been preventing most governments from handling poverty well ;
1. Most governments in both rich and poor countries do not see poverty-reduction as being any priority to them, and so do not make much attempt to reduce poverty. The wider benefits of reducing poverty are not widely understood.
2. The few governments in rich or poor countries that do see poverty-reduction as being of some priority to them, have commonly wasted much of the resources they use in mistaken attempts at poverty reduction from not understanding their best policy options for that.
Recent world food prices have been kept high partly by new Biofuel policies, mostly helping to maintain global poverty. 2009 also saw richer countries hit a substantial economic downturn that makes it harder for them to help reduce poverty for some years. And of course all governments do have other problems to try to deal with, and also all have some resource limitations that restrict the actual amount that they can achieve. But mostly governments could certainly do better.
In many poorer countries, the current world recession is also causing family remittances from overseas workers or migrant workers to fall. As more migrant workers lose jobs in Western Europe and the USA, remittances to poor families in Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe are expected to be hardest hit. The current recession has also badly affected the relative poor in richer countries as a 2012 report about the UK noted.

NOTE:  As well as looking at the persisting extent of poverty worldwide, as shown in world poverty maps, this website also seeks to seriously examine the various real causes of poverty and the various real possible solutions to poverty. Better understanding about poverty issues and poverty statistics are really needed to help end poverty.
The menu on the left clicks to give our Poor in a Rich World, Environment Poverty, Biological Poverty, Economic Poverty, Exploitation Poverty, Social Poverty, Poverty in Africa, Poverty in Asia, Poverty in Latin America, Solutions to World Poverty and other sections - and each carries further poverty information and informative links to give a wider picture of poverty worldwide.

Look around, and tell friends or customers !

poverty image This is not a charity, religious or government associated website, and not Wikipedia, and without their editorial policies we will try to give the real truth on poverty to an extent that they may often not do.
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PS. This website is now also available as a paperback or an ebook 'World Poverty in the 21st Century'.

© World Poverty, 2015