The cause of poverty is inequality in income distribution and is due to the lack of access by the majority to a means of living, employment that meets the needs of the individual. Income distribution in the United States is becoming increasingly unequal. In the case of Absolute Poverty, which is a situation in which people experience the hardship of poverty, because they fall under the poverty line, does a person have the resources to climb out of Absolute Poverty with the rise of inequality in income distribution?
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Two types of Absolute poverty are the Working Class poverty and Generational poverty. The effects on available resources in both healthcare and education differ to some degree in these two types of poverty. “Research shows that families generally need two times the amount of income defined as the federal poverty level in order to meet basic needs. (Pdx.edu, 2018) A family who earns below this amount is considered to be living at or below the poverty line. It is important to understand the these types of poverty and what their effects on the resources of Healthcare and Education are.
It is a common misconception that people who are employed do not live in poverty. Working class poverty is having an income but not one that allows for saving or extras. More than “40% of all SNAP participants lived in a household with income earned from employment during 2009 ” (“Top Effects of Poverty The Borgen Project,” 2018) The characteristics of this type of poverty are: live paycheck to paycheck, do not have health care and view poverty as a personal deficiency. The effects on healthcare are that people may not go to a doctor or fill prescriptions needed when sick. This group may not always qualify for the healthcare programs because they make a few dollars too much. Let’s look at education, in recent years the cost of just getting school supplies has skyrocketed.
According to the annual Huntington Bank’s Backpack Index, “Last year the average supply list for an elementary school student cost about $650, up from an inflation-adjusted $375 in 2006”. (HuffPost, 2018) If you are living pay-check-to paycheck, having to pay this for one child will be hard let alone if you have more than one. While the working class poor may use education as a resource to climb up the income distribution ladder, they may find it can be slippery.
Generational Poverty is when a family’s economic level remains low for two or more generations. The characteristics of this type of poverty are: family may have never owned land, may have never known anyone who benefited from education, never knew anyone who moved up or was respected in a job, high family illiteracy. The effects of this type of poverty on healthcare are that poor diets play a big role in determining a person’s health status. Economic factors can also affect school readiness skills, the number of books in a child’s home positively correlates with the child’s literacy skills.
Schools in the areas where people are on the bottom of the income distribution ladder, are low or barely funded and tests scores show that the quality of education is below average. High school graduates in poverty are searching for low-paying jobs, many times in “states that have been reluctant to fund programs that help the poor, such as MS, LA, AL, TN and SC.” (Pdx.edu, 2018) While states continue to no invest in human capital, this cycle carries implications not only for the current generation, but also for the ones to come. The income distribution ladder has several rungs missing for those in Generational Poverty.
Whether Working Class poverty or Generational poverty, the negative effects on both the resources of Healthcare and Education available and the low investment in human capital can influence their ability to climb the income distribution ladder to a better financial outcome.
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