(noun) The state of lacking the material (particularly income) and cultural resources that a person requires to live a healthy life.

Example: A homeless person living on the streets is in a state of poverty.

Audio Pronunciation: (pov·er·ty)

Download Audio Pronunciation: poverty.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Plural: poverties
  • The definition of poverty and what a person “requires” to live is highly subjective and oft debated in the social sciences.
  • Poverty is broken down into absolute poverty and relative poverty. Absolute poverty is the same regardless of country or culture and occurs when the resources required for minimum physical health are lacking, typically defined by no access to food, clothing, and shelter (e.g. a homeless person living on the streets in ill health and hungry). Relative poverty is determined by income distribution over a given population and is culturally defined relative to societal norms (e.g. driving a used car when your neighbor just bought a new car). Absolute poverty is an objective measurement and relative poverty is subjective assessment.
  • It is sociologically problematic to view poverty only through the lens of income or monetary worth, this perspective does not account for self sufficiency by people living off the land or people who chose to live minimalistically.
  • Types:

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