Poverty is the deprivation of food, shelter, money and clothing that occurs when people cannot satisfy their basic needs. Poverty can be understood simply as a lack of money, or more broadly in terms of barriers to everyday life.
Absolute poverty or destitution refers to the state of severe deprivation of basic human needs, which commonly includes food, water, sanitation, clothing, shelter, health care, education and information. Relative poverty is defined contextually as economic inequality in the location or society in which people live. For most of history poverty had been mostly accepted as inevitable as traditional modes of production were insufficient to give an entire population a comfortable standard of living. After the industrial revolution, mass production in factories made wealth increasingly more inexpensive and accessible. Of more importance is the modernization of agriculture, such as fertilizers, in order to provide enough yield to feed the population. People who practise asceticism intentionally live in economic poverty so as to attain spiritual wealth.
The World Bank estimated 1.29 billion people were living in absolute poverty in 2008. Of these, about 400 million people in absolute poverty lived in India and 173 million people in China. In terms of percentage of regional populations, sub-Saharan Africa at 47% had the highest incidence rate of absolute poverty in 2008. Between 1990 and 2010, about 663 million people moved above the absolute poverty level. Still, extreme poverty is a global challenge; it is observed in all parts of the world, including the developed economies.
The supply of basic needs can be restricted by constraints on government services such as corruption, debt and loan conditionalities and by the brain drain of health care and educational professionals. Strategies of increasing income to make basic needs more affordable typically include welfare, economic freedom, and providing financial services. Today, poverty reduction is a major goal and issue for many international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank.
Famous quotes containing the word poverty:
“There is but one love of Jesus, as there is but one person in the poorJesus. We take vows of chastity to love Christ with undivided love; to be able to love him with undivided love we take a vow of poverty which frees us from all material possessions, and with that freedom we can love him with undivided love, and from this vow of undivided love we surrender ourselves totally to him in the person who takes his place.”
—Mother Teresa (b. 1910)
“To be idle and to be poor have always been reproaches, and therefore every man endeavours with his utmost care to hide his poverty from others, and his idleness from himself.”
—Samuel Johnson (17091784)
“Crimes increase as education, opportunity, and property decrease. Whatever spreads ignorance, poverty and, discontent causes crime.... Criminals have their own responsibility, their own share of guilt, but they are merely the hand.... Whoever interferes with equal rights and equal opportunities is in some ... real degree, responsible for the crimes committed in the community.”
—Rutherford Birchard Hayes (18221893)