Talk:Poverty/Archive 2

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Voluntary poverty

Voluntary poverty includes those who want to avoid predatory persons/cultures.

Reorganized talk page

I have reorganized this talk page, hopefully it will help us to move forward on editing. Please think about where you place your comments on the page so that your ideas suggestions etc. don't get lot. Also, please keep in mind that if you have a solid idea about how to edit this page you should just be bold and take action, rather than posting comments here and waiting for others to act. --futurebird 20:35, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

PS. Please vote for this page in Wikipedia:This week's improvement drive

paxton rox

according to the world bank less than 2% of the pop. lives with less than 1$ a month in Portugal. truth is regardless of what the international community thinks at least in Portugal these surveys are conducted. It's hilarious to think anyone in Portugal would live with less than 30 euro a month, leave alone 200,000 people. I suggest major clean-up!!!!!

Note from Matt Berkley 4 February 2007: I am not sure where to put this, so I have been bold.

I have revised and reinstated several clarifications and a substantive point deleted by another editor. I hope this is acceptable from a relative newcomer to Wikipedia.

Economics and the food error

The substantive point relates to the fact that per capita statistics do not take account of food needs where proportions of adults and children vary.

As regards the deletion of that point by another editor, who referred to my personal opinion not being a reliable source, I would point out that:

a) the facts that the proportion of adults is rising and the dollar is per person are indisputable; and

b) primary sources for the specific information from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and the World Bank, are in the article cited in my original edit (00.28, 3 February 2007) for the Wikipedia poverty page.

In relation to this food-needs issue, a legitimate question clearly arises whether in any particular study food needs should make any difference to the results.

One line of reasoning which seems reasonable to me is this: Since the burden of proof is on the researcher to back up their factual claims, the burden is on them to show that this undeniable problem is not a large one.

We might note also that some claims are about the future: "the world is on track to meet the target". No-one knows how many children per adult there will be in 2015. I am not making the point that the error is big. I am making the point that the World Bank have not measured poverty.

(In relation to claims based on spending (the World Bank claims are mostly based on surveys asking people about their spending) we can say the same about other needs, for things such as rent, water and accommodation.

The fact that a) you begin spending more than a dollar equivalent (converted using a method designed to compare purchasing power of currencies as a whole) does not mean that b) you got more in return, or c) you got higher quality in return, or d) your basic or other needs were better satisfied.)

As regards the clarifications I attempted, I tried in some of the places where I thought it was relevant, to make clear that

a) the claims *have been made by people about poverty*, in preference to the original text which sometimes implied that b) statements about poverty were reports of empirical facts.

Perhaps this kind of distinction might help clarify the differences in reasoning between those who think spending measures poverty and those who do not.

The way I see it, it is not possible to measure poverty without defining what people need, which is not objectively quantifiable.

There are certainly statistics which people *say* measure poverty. But the reasoning is not clear to me how statistics can measure "basic needs".

What you think "basic needs" are depends on you, not just the person you are studying. Perhaps the statement "I have measured your poverty" is false by definition, if "poverty" means "lack". Perhaps you cannot know what I lack without being me. Even what I think I need is only my opinion.

Matt Berkley 23:20, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

Please read Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Verifiability. You need to provide external sources regarding for example claims regarding ratios of adult and children, that this affect poverty statistics, and that these are not already compensated for. Also, personal webpages are not Wikipedia:Reliable sources.Ultramarine 23:28, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

After consulting Wikipedia pages on original research, verifiability, reverting and others I came to the conclusion that an article published in the Addis Tribune newspaper of Ethiopia in 2003 would have a good chance of being accepted by Wikipedia in the end.

Perhaps I could have made it clearer that the website was the newspaper's.

Verifiability is quite easy in the case of a) the non-constancy of food needs across countries and times, which is a basic assumption of the FAO method, and b) the difference in this respect between the FAO and the World Bank methods.

Primary sources are mentioned in the article I cited.

I could have simply pointed to food needs as a potential problem with large-scale claims, then linked to the World Bank and FAO papers. But the newspaper article put the error in context. Also, the problem applies in many contexts, since economists use per capita statistics for many purposes.

The scope of theoretical problems related to demographics is wider than I indicated in my note above. Economies of scale also apply: a household with two children and two adults costs more per person to run than one with four children and two adults. Thus, there are at least two reasons why as birth rates fall, other things being equal costs per person rise.

A theoretical observation is not a statistical claim, and does not need statistics to back it up. A numerical claim, such as those from economists claiming to have counted the poor, does need statistics. It is not clear to me why anyone would think that food needs are not important in looking at starving people.

Further points in this area appear in my note above.

It is perhaps important to bear in mind that people's spending levels do not measure what they received, or how good it was, or how suitable it was for a particular purpose.

On a separate matter, the question of whether statements about poverty are best described as factual reports ("there are x million poor people") or as claims, seems to me to have a clear answer.

Descriptions such as "poverty" applied to numbers give little information about the factual content of the data.

Matt Berkley 03:05, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

An opinion article published by you is not a reliable source. You need something more reliable, like a scholarly article. Also, when the World Bank uses surveys, they do not "claim", which implies an unsupported guess.Ultramarine 09:26, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

Below is my [last] edit of 4 February 2007, touching on several areas of concern noted by others on this Talk page.

I agree with those who say the Wikipedia poverty article is far too narrow.

What may not be immediately apparent is that the scope of data provided by economists is more narrow than the descriptions given in summaries. Also, the meaning of data is limited by some conceptual problems.

I replaced the heading "Measuring poverty" by "Poverty and statistics". "Measuring poverty" seems to me to imply a "yes" answer to the question of whether poverty can be measured. The article did not examine this question.

I clarified where information came from the World Bank. If the word "claim" is unacceptable to a consensus of editors then I suggest the word "state".

I made a section on concepts, and noted some which were lacking in the original. For instance, I distinguished between number of people and severity. The number of people designated as "poor" cannot possibly measure poverty. This is hardly controversial.

I stated that the World Bank statistics used for global claims were mostly on spending, not on consumption. Economists use money amounts, not food amounts.

I added to the brief mention of criticisms of World Bank claims, to give an example of what the criticisms were.

I made a point about per capita statistics not measuring food needs of children. I cited an article written by me and published by an Ethiopian newspaper. I do not believe that the basic points are controversial: economists use per capita statistics; the dollar a day is per person; the proportion of adults has risen around the globe with increased contraception (and the one-child policy in China!) adults need more food than children. Perhaps this is at least a candidate for Wikipedia's policy on deductions from existing information, rather than wholesale deletion.


Poverty and statistics

   Main article: Measuring poverty

Map from World Bank on percentages of population living on less than 1 dollar per day. Unfortunately, information is missing for some countries. Map from World Bank on percentages of population living on less than 1 dollar per day. Unfortunately, information is missing for some countries. World map showing Life expectancy. World map showing Life expectancy. World map showing the Human Development Index. World map showing the Human Development Index. World map showing the Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality. World map showing the Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality. The World Bank claims that the percentage of the world's population living on less than $1 per day has halved in twenty years. However, most of this was claimed to have occurred in East and South Asia. The graph shows the 1981-2001 period. The World Bank claims that the percentage of the world's population living on less than $1 per day has halved in twenty years. However, most of this was claimed to have occurred in East and South Asia. The graph shows the 1981-2001 period. Life expectancy has been increasing and converging for most of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa has recently seen a decline, partly related to the AIDS epidemic. The graph shows the 1950-2005 period. Life expectancy has been increasing and converging for most of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa has recently seen a decline, partly related to the AIDS epidemic. The graph shows the 1950-2005 period.

Although the most severe poverty is in the developing world, there is evidence of poverty in every region. In developed countries, this condition results in wandering homeless people and poor suburbs and ghettos[citation needed]. Poverty may be seen as the collective condition of poor people, or of poor groups, and in this sense entire nation-states are sometimes regarded as poor. In an attempt to avoid stigma these nations are usually called developing nations[citation needed].

Some concepts relevant to poverty claims

1. Absolute and relative

Poverty has been conceptualized as absolute and also as relative poverty. The concept of absolute poverty is based on the idea of a fixed standard consistent over time and place.

An example of a measurement which has been considered absolute is the percentage of the population eating fewer than a certain number of calories per day). However, in practice, climatic, demographic and physiological differences, as well as differing energy demands according to the type of work people do, make even the energy-requirement part of the concept of nutritional need more problematic than may appear at first sight - people do not all need the same amount of food.

2. Number of people vs. severity

A general problem with the percentage approach is that it does not measure shortfall for those below the line. Under this line of reasoning, if one person rises above the line and a billion poor get poorer, poverty is reduced.

3. Longevity

A problem with traditional economic theory is that other things being equal, deaths of those defined as poor result in “less poverty”.

The World Bank defines extreme poverty for the purpose of looking at the species as a whole, and for some international comparisons, as the condition of living on less than US$ (PPP) 1 per day; and moderate poverty as living on less than $2 a day. The World Bank has claimed that in 2001, 1.1 billion people lived on less than $1 a day and 2.7 billion on less than $2 a day.

These statistics are sometimes referred to as "consumption", including in the World Bank's own global research. However, there is a distinction between consumption amount in the senses of food intake or goods received, and consumption-expenditure amount. The majority of the World Bank statistics are on the latter.

The World Bank has claimed that the proportion of the developing world's population living in extreme economic poverty has fallen from 28 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2001. Much of the claimed improvement was for East and South Asia. In Sub-Saharan Africa GDP per capita shrank with 14 percent and extreme poverty increased from 41 percent in 1981 to 46 percent in 2001. Other regions were reported as having seen little or no change. In the early 1990s the transition economies of Europe and Central Asia experienced a sharp drop in income. Official reports claimed that poverty rates rose to 6 percent at the end of the decade before beginning to recede. [4]

The claims of the World Bank in relation to Millennium Goal Indicator 1 (the "dollar a day" claims) have been criticised on various grounds: for example, the researchers failed to look at prices or needs for the subject group. [5].

One problem for claims on poverty, wealth or inequality based on per-capita money arises from two uncontroversial facts: Adults need more food than children, and the proportions of each vary over time, place and households. Globally, the proportion of adults is rising. Other things being equal, therefore, the traditional method in macroeconomics must, to the extent that the notion of a numerical description of the satisfaction of basic needs is coherent, overestimate “poverty reduction”. This problem applies to World Bank claims and others. [6]


6. Discoverer of global poverty error calls for statistics on survival


Above text added c. 10pm, 28 February 2007. References other than reference 6 subsequently deleted for clarity (formatting renumbered them when pasted to this page). Reference 6 is to: .

The official methodology paper for Millennium Goal indicator 1 ("How did the World's Poorest Fare in the 1990s?", by Shaohua Chen and Martin Ravallion) reads: "In keeping with past work, we measure poverty in terms of household consumption expenditure per capita."$FILE/wps2409.pdf

There is an inference between "you spent more" and "you became richer".

That is one reason why existing statements such as "the number of extremely poor people fell by x million" are not factual reports, but expressions of opinion. Part of what my edits were aiming at was to clarify that some issues are conceptual, not factual. Matt Berkley 23:58, 28 February 2007 (UTC)


Could poverty be eradicated with the aid of new understanding of capital?

Things to do.

merge or link eliminating poverty section with poverty reduction

Maybe we could merge or link poverty reduction with the section of this article named Eliminating Poverty? --Yshander1 13:45, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

Can anyone see any reason not to merge out Eliminating Poverty?futurebird 13:14, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

I think Poverty reduction is about methods, techniques, past attempts etc, whereas poverty is about definition, examples, locations, understanding etc. In terms of importance, readers will recognize poverty is a very broad topic affecting a large portion of the planets population. Poverty exists in both rich countries and in poor countries. I know it deserves more than one page entry in Wikipedia. --Joewski 03:51, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Dr S.Marques' comments: questioning the focus on economic poverty 01:15, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Unfortunately, too much persons start from the presumption that they are talking about facts when they are talking about ideas.

The article on poverty is biased. Starting with the images used:

Texts and images are representations. When using an image of children in a slum surrounded by garbage in Jakarta, with one of them smilling with a barbie doll in his hands, you are representing poverty as the condition of Jakarta; you are representing poverty as the condition of children in a country such as Indonesia (meaning non westernized Southeast Asia); and more serious, you are representing an attribute (the barbie doll) of the westernized world, particularly USA where it is fabricated, as the object of desire of these children.You don't know that, hence you can not represent it as an illustration of poverty. Plus, you use 3 more photographies: and, by chance, non of them represent poverty in an anglosaxonic country, and from them, 2 represent non westernized Southeast Asian countries, again.

Then, the world map of poverty by countries. How can poverty be measured in US dollares for territories where this currency is not in use? There are large territories where people can live reasonably with the equivalent of 1 US dollar per day and large territories where this equivalent means to be severe deprived. Again, you are representing USA currency/economic criteria as the standard that everybody should desire.

About the text on poverty:

People are considered poor when they are unable to satisfy their basic needs for food,clothing, shelter, and health. Although the experience of hunger and malnutrition is immediately material,Poverty exists in a discursive materialist formation. Their poverty does not reside exclusively in the material world independent of social theory; discourse is deeply implicated in creating poverty insofar as it conceals the social origins of scarcity.

You claim to present different points of view on poverty. All the points of view presented are biased in economic metanarratives (the Marxist theories, as well). Scarcity experienced by the poor in the so called poverty area is manufactured outside this area, within a nexus of relations - technical,social, ecological, cultural, political and academic - diffused throughout the larger society. Each relation of the nexus constitutes a site at which scarcity is constructed through an interplay of discursive and non-discursive practices. It is not possible to privilege any one of them because each is constituted from the others. Theories of economic development are counterproductive because they conceal how scarcity inducing mechanisms function and, as ultimate consequence, disempower the poor and mislead people of goodwill (see Lakshman Yapa 2002).

The result is that: if you make the same biased questions, you will allways reach the same answers. And if you want to be taken serious you can't ignore that the answers provided, till now, did not address the problem. Seeking economic answers just lead to a situation where a few are getting better by making the majority getting worst:

First, by partitioning the world’s people into two sectors--those who are poor and non-poor, we are prevented from seeing the role the non-poor play in creating conditions of material scarcity for the poor. Thus, much attention is paid to population growth in the socalled poor countries while the consumption of four-fifths of the earth’s resources by a fifth of its population remains largely untouched (see Miller 1995).

Second, having created the binary of the poor and non-poor, the latter is held up as a standard for the poor to emulate. There are serious ecological limits that prevent the majority of the world’s poor from ever attaining the consumerist life-styles of the affluent. If this happens,the few very rich will stay like the same (as always, of course)but the larger middle classes and upper middle classes, now feeling so secure and untouchable in their consumerist and waiste productive bubbles, will see their situation drastically aggravated.

It's not possible to avoid the narrow edge between this situation and the environment. It is not possible to address scarcity without addressing the consumerism and waiste of the «well done» non-poor societies. As it is now, The earth’s tree cover is shrinking by 17 million hcts per year (forest clearing for agriculture, lumber, firewood, and the effects of air pollution and acid rain); Extinction’s of plant and animal species are now estimated at 140 daily;Sea level is projected to rise between 1.4 m (4.7 ft) and 2.2 m (7.1 ft) by 2100; and, As a result of atmosphere increases in heat-trapping carbon dioxide, the mean temp. of the earth’s surface is projected to rise between 1.5C and 4.5C between now and 2050.

Hence, please recognize your bias and change the content on this article. Poverty is a serious matter for all of us, and it would be great that children could access to wikipedia and find new approaches to open their minds to find creative solutions for their future. Revealing a multiplicity of causative relations is imperative. Such causative relations point the way to multiple possibilities of agency in the world; they should go beyond the realm of poverty economic experts to identify numerous agents of social change giving to all a new understanding of non-sovereign power.

Dr S.Marques 01:15, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

  • I agree with much of what you say. Let's work on a carful re-write to add some of these ideas. The western slant is extreme. Your observations about the use of images are spot-on.
  • PS. On talk pages please add comments at the end with thier own section heading.
  • futurebird 01:44, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

I don't understand what the terms "discursive materialist formation" or "social origins of scarcity" mean. Could you please clarify? T.C. Craig 18:15, 12 January 2007 (UTC) 17:34, 13 January 2007 (UTC) Clarification:

When discussing an object located in the world, we necessarily use only one or a few of mediating concepts - ideas expressed in textual (words) or pictorial images. So the world we know, reflect upon, and talk about, is discursively constructed through mediating concepts. Simply, it could not be any other way.A problem is defined as such, in the theoretical realm, by words. Poverty as an economic problem is not a self-evident truth; It exists in the discoursive level - In fact, it is a discoursive formation created by the socalled developed countries that serves to hide their role as causative agents in the construction of scarcity.

It works like this: by defining poverty as an economic problem we are forced to begin with income. What are poor countries? Answer: Those who have low GNP per capita. Why do they have low GNP? Answer: Because they are less developed. Prescription to solve the problem: to increase investments, obtain foreign aid, borrow credit, expand exports, modernize agriculture, establish industrial zones, and so on; in 2 words - economic development (meaning: to achieve the economic standards of those defined as non-poor). See, how it is discoursively constructed?

I'll give you a few examples to show how the non-poor countries use this type of discourse to create a material reality in poor areas and keep hiding their reponsability on scarcity:

- Mexico has to earn foreign exchange by exporting cut flowers, vegetables, strawberries, while it imports from the U.S, a fifth of the corn it consumes.

- African countries such as Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Angola or Congo need to drastically improve their GNP to pay their external debt to european countries. Meanwhile, European Union has a policy of paying their farmers the excess remains of production costs in order to sell their products at a low cost in the markets in Africa. African farmers can't compete with these prices.

- Major oil companies provide the energy needed to keep the industrial consumerist styles of the socalled non-poor countries and give a major contibution to their GNP. Some years ago, a huge disastre occurred in the oil pipes in a country in Africa. The reason was non-maintenance by the giant western company owner. Result: a massive environmental destruction, water resources poisoned, high morbility and mortality in the surrounded villages. Answer provided: reparation of the pipes to keep providing the energy needed to the developed societies in Europe; Compensation to the affected African villages and villagers: sports clothes to create a children's sports team and desks(no chairs)for a village school.

This is the discoursive materialist formation of poverty.

Instead of asking the question "Why are poor people poor?" it is better to ask "why do particular groups in specific places experience hunger, homelessness, high morbility, etc?" The answers to the latter question are very different from those to the question "why does poverty exist". As I explained earlier, the economicist discoursive formation prevent us to understand how the so-called “non-problem” developed societies are deeply implicated in the material deprivation that the less developed experience. As given in the few examples above, this happens through repatriation of profits, transfer pricing, declining terms of trade, debt service, transfer of inappropriate technology, increased consumerist socialization (see for example Barnett and Cavanagh 1995; Korten 1996). And, most of all, because it is convenient (for those in power - in the "non-problem" societies) not to redefine the problem in terms of their implication as causative agents of poverty and scarcity, by their thoughts and material actions. Starting by redefining their life-styles, consumerist socialization, resources exploitation (methods and quantity), energy consumption (type and quantity), waste production and disposable.

In a simplistic way, one thought for the middle and upper middle classes (which exist in non-poor and poor countries): Do you really think that you are living a good life whitout harming anyone and have no responsability for scarcity of others, when you choose to buy a big house (made at a low cost by illegal immigrants with low salaries), made with a huge amount of expensive timber from the Rain forests, equipped with high consumption levels of several kinds of energy; When you choose to buy several motorized vehicles with high levels of energy consumption and air pollution; when you choose to feed you and your family with beef steaks everyday (In a Californian feed-lot, 100.000 cows consume 850.000 kg of corn,in a daily basis. Which would be enough to feed 1.7 millions of people); when you choose to ignore that your "well-done" government policies promote the development of giant companies to produce your food at low prices by exploiting vaste areas, all over the world, with monocultures; to provide you low cost energy by exploiting, all over the world, non renewable energies; to provide you low cost sanitarian amenities by using non effective disposable of waste or pollution reduction? Resources are limited: for you to use and spend them in this way, billions are deprived from their fair amount. To maintain your access to those resources at a low cost, more and more places and people are exploited to provide you (in poor and non-poor countries).

In other words, Scarcity has a social origin, it is socially constructed. It is a material reality experienced within particular groups in particular contexts but manufactured outside this sector, within a nexus of multiple relations: technical,social, ecological, cultural, political and academics - diffused throughout the larger society. Each relation of the nexus constitutes a site at which scarcity is constructed through an interplay of discursive (theoretical approaches to reality and definitions of problems)and non-discursive (actions)practices. 17:34, 13 January 2007 (UTC)Dr S.Marques

Let's revise it!

So, I think that you should start editing the article to at least reflect the existence of these kinds of views. There are a lot of people who subscribe to the economic description, so we can't just delete it. Hence, we need to split things up or restructure this whole article so it only talks about what poverty is in terms of malnutrition etc.-- that is concrete non-economic poverty. Then we should make the "causes of poverty" a summery of different theories, including this one... possibly with links to pages that would elaborate on these theories.

I hate the lists under "causes" in this article-- each list item reflects one agenda or another and they are not grouped in a helpful way.

I propose stripping this article down so that it describes poverty without going in to the causes in any kind of depth.

Could we start collecting a list of other articles that relate to poverty and might work well as "see such and such..." links under causes?

We need to "be bold" and start fixing this page. futurebird 18:09, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

I second that motion. Thank you Dr. S. for your clarifications. T.C. Craig 20:21, 13 January 2007 (UTC)


The 'barriers to opportunities' section is quite messy.

There are two subheadings with nothing more about them, and the text under 'Illiteracy' doesn't seem to have anything to do with the heading... Ultratycoon (talk) 17:25, 13 December 2010 (UTC)


Generalize it

Yes, the definition appears so narrowly constructed for such a general topic. I would like to discuss the use of a more generic definition that would fit all circumstances.

Poverty is simply the state of being without; its opposite, prosperity, is the state of being with excess.

Defined in this way, we can begin to address a poverty of spirit in addition to its more acedemic use. Also, defining poverty as a 'state' implies a nonperminance; whereby, individuals can move from poverty to prosperity.

Kevin Monte de Ramos author "Poverty and the Public Utility"

It also takes a very materialist approach to poverty... for some poverty is a dearth of the psychological and not the material.

"Defined in this way, we can begin to address a poverty of spirit in addition to its more acedemic use. Also, defining poverty as a 'state' implies a nonperminance; whereby, individuals can move from poverty to prosperity."

Are you implying this is possible for all peoples? T.C. Craig 20:37, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

Intellectual Poverty

Of course, if one refers to something such as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, then we find that the absolutes of poverty are stated as being along the basement of the pyramid (physiological needs that must be met for everyone include : breathing, food, water, (sex), sleep, homeostasis, excretion). Aside from the bracketed out activity (nuns seem to do without), some kind of explanation or reference to absolute poverty as being guided by the below observations might be worth putting in : - breathing : (at this moment in time, people don't have to pay for their air - but it could be argued that, in extremely cold climated, access to 'heated' air would be beneficial, but this only addresses a small proportion of people alive). - food : what are UN nutrition guidelines and why might they differ from the guidelines of other countries? What about quality of food. Just having food isn't enough, some basic dietetic analysis would be useful here. - water : clean and, hopefully, clear. Humans need to drink LOTS of water to optimise their healthy function, lacking copious amounts of water might not mean death, but it certainly reduces quality of life. - sleep : People who sleep homeless or rough would stand a higher chance of ill mental and physical health if they don't get *routine* and at least, say, *8 hours* of sleep each day (though the 8 hour figure could easily depend upon climate and other factors). - homeostatsis : People who sleep rough in Moscow die quite often. Though there are many other types of homeostatsis that are worthy of mention. - excretion : Without toilets to go to, excrement can build up to unhealthy levels leading to disease.

Anyhow, the above comments seem quite natural. But something more fundamental and problematic crops up to my mind (as it has to the minds of many others) - namely, the concept of IQ poverty or intellectual poverty. IQ points and intelligence are clearly good things to have, should they not be involved in concepts of poverty? People who are smart tend to make slightly better decisions.

Renalcat 00:35, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

Is IQ the same thing as intelligence? Is is always good to have a high IQ? That's a whole debate in and of itself. I do think it is important to open this article up to other ideas of poverty. I would say that the intellectual poverty may be unrelated to other kinds of poverty. In fact wealth may breed a certain sort of intellectual poverty, leading to superficiality and a blind-spot for the long term consequences, morality or cruelty of one's actions. I'm getting very philosophical here. What we need are some sources. I know these ideas are out there, I didn't make them up myself. futurebird 01:04, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Intentional poverty

Reasons for intentional poverty include those beyond religious. For some it is in solidarity with the impoverished around the world. Others maintain intentional poverty to avoid government taxes which contribute to war, prisons and other forms of state oppression. Still others choose it as a means of living an ecologically sound life. jake april 2007 I'd love to see this article address the vows of poverty taken by some religious orders, and what they entail. MamaGeek Joy 14:57, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Spiritual Practices

It doesn't seem right, or in keeping with the general subject of the article, for the Spirtual Practices template to be at the bottom of the page.

LegCircus 05:59, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

Okay. I'll delete it and let someone else decide if it should be reinserted, probably with a needed section on poverty as a spiritual practice. RichardRDFtalk 13:44, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

I would second the motion to add something on poverty as a spiritual practice. I would define it in that sense to mean a choice to give up or at least keep a tight rein on one's desire for money or material possessions, or the pursuit thereof, in the belief that by doing so, one is freed from earthly demands and is better able to help others or to engage in spiritual pursuits. Persons entering many religious orders must take a vow of poverty. In most cases, persons taking these vows are not lacking for the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter. -- 19:05, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

I added a section on religious poverty a little while ago. I think it'll do for now, although I don't think it's as good as it could be. Just came back today to add an appropriate picture for it. I'd be happy to work on it more if anybody has any ideas. Just give me a shout. Robotforaday 18:56, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I think there should be a disambiguation page-- or we should link to religious poverty as a separate article. futurebird 19:43, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
I really think that the article on Poverty should seek to provide an overview for all significant approaches to that topic, and religious poverty (or poverty as a spiritual practice) is an important approach, even if it is not within the scope of interests of some editors (or readers for that matter). It was, after all, a requested addition, requested both here and at Wikiproject: Catholicism. By all means, when people are prepared to write more, there should be a fork article away from this page onto a more expansive article elsewhere (as there should be with other topics in this article), but the article on Poverty itself should include a couple of short paras on this subject area. Robotforaday 14:10, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
Maybe... I'd love to know what other people think about this! Please weigh in. I don't think we agree, so let's see if we can get some other views from people who are working on this article.futurebird 20:35, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

Poverty is relative

This article seems substandard to me. The definition of poverty seems poor (no pun intended). Insufficient means to live implies starving to death.

Let's distinguish between poverty in the sense of the line separating the middle class from those of lesser means -- and people dying from famine.

A few months back I tried to find a definition of poverty level, but hours on online searching (maybe I'm inefficient) got me hardly anywhere, which is embarassing for someone with my last name (poor). --Ed Poor

In law, poverty is recognised, in most systems of developed countries, as a mitigating factor for the determination of the punishment, being usually considered coincident with a generic and permanent state of need which can affect and alter the correct capability of clearly or freely identifying the legally and socially acceptable behaviour.
I know the french have very specific laws on mitigating punishment for the 'poor' I'll see if I can find an 'expert' to help us on that one.--dgd

many societies employ social workers to fight poverty by a variety of methods ranging from moral persuasion to direct financial subsidy.

Do they convince them that they are not poor, or what?
Excluding collective hypnosis, what precisely does this refer to? G
The political right considers poverty to be a choice. Hence the mantra,
"Get a job."

Things to add?

Suggested sources

If you are interested in contributing to this article, here are some free information sources:

I work in Mental Health Services for a Village for Homeless People and was trained on the Culture of Poverty. The most referenced material was that of Ruby Payne. I don't know much about her, but it might be worth it to add her in. --Annalisa579 23:12, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Progress in World Hunger

Little progress has been made in tackling world hunger despite pledges by leaders to halve the number who are underfed, the UN's food agency says.
Some 820m people in the developing world were hungry in 2001-2003, only 3m fewer than 1990-1992, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said.
vkvora 03:58, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

POV issues

Too much bias

While there can be no such thing as 'unbiased,' this article fundamentally champions neoliberal explanations of poverty and 'development.' This is a VERY hotly debated field, and the article desperately needs revision to accommodate the complexity of the topic and the multiple views that play into it.

This article shows clear bias of both left & right views...anyone up for an unbiased edit? On both sides in this article..anyone care to edit —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Please explain what precisely you perceive as being POV, and how you would like to see it corrected. --Van helsing 09:44, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

An unbiased edited may be impossible. There are many reasons, and solutions, to economic problems - people with leftist philosophies choose those reasons and solutions that fit their ideal of a greater world - right-wingers choose theirs. Both should be presented free from suggestions that one is better than the other. Economics is as much a philosophy as it is a science. Poverty is an economic condition with moral consequences.

One note I'd like to make about Capitalist Economics: it is one of the few human institutions with no inherent point. It has no stated objective. It holds no inherent moral code. Indeed, any measurable good that comes from its operation is a symptom of its operation, not the intended point - like exhaust from a car. In fact, there is no measurable level of success. How much is too much? How little is too little? Is production unlimited? Or are there finite resources? What about automation and computerization? Will we allow the market to find solutions to the massive unemployment certain to result? Will we allow people to go hungry or homeless? Or will we support these people collectively? And if so, is it a hand out? Or natural human progress? These are the types of questions we need to ask - it is the only measure by which we can judge the usefulness of Capitalism, or any other system. What good is anything if it cannot secure our future? In many ways, economic freedom is far more powerful, useful, and enjoyable than political freedom. For what good is freedom of speech to the ignored and starving? What good does one vote matter to a lobbyist - the faces may change, but the system stays the same.

There are two kinds of voters in America: Those with one vote, and those with a million.

T.C. Craig 18:37, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

References to military spending

This is ridiculous. The only reason you see relevance in stating how much money is being spent on defence, is because you hold a POV contrary to defence spending. I am sure if you figure out how much money is spent worldwide paving roads, it is a stagering figure. Does that mean we should stop paving roads too? Defence spending is NOT the reason for poverty, and you cannot eliminate poverty by giving away money. The solution to the problem is obviously giving these people the opportunity to work and be productive. How is foreign aid going to accomplish that? and how is reducing defence spending going to help? Please stop making those comparisons! it's POV pushing. -- Dullfig 17:34, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

By the way, the US spends FAR, FAR more money on social security and welfare. if it wanted to increase foreign aid, I would start by reducing those expenses. Dullfig 01:41, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Throwing in comment about military spending is certainly violating neutral POV. The information is irrelevant except for ax-grinding. Goldfritha 18:12, 30 December 2006 (UTC)
This IS relevant. Many people accuse the North Korean government of imposing poverty on its people by spending so much on its military. By that logic, we should present the evidence for making similar claims where it exists, including the United States. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:24, 26 October 2009 (UTC)


The U.S. military budget equivalent to the rest of the world's is certainly true, and a fact that many enjoy bringing to light but has nothing to with poverty per se. 21:01, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

Another thing that is never mentioned is tha private charitable help from US citizens is far more than Federal Foreign Aid, and far more than the private contributions of any other foriegn countries. Dullfig 22:59, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

World Bank statistics

The claim by the world bank that the percentage of the global population living in poverty has decreased is very controversial. First even though percentage has decreased this might be off-set by population growth and thus more people are living in poverty. Secondly the way the World Bank measures statistics and changes base values arbitrarily casts doubts on its figures. For a comprehensive review of the debate have a look at Reddy and Pogge website.[[1]] It comprises a technical paper explaining some of the issues with the World Bank figures and there is also a discussion with Martin Ravallion who wrote a paper on global poverty for the World Bank.-- 20:37, 21 March 2006 (UTC)willem vervaeke

You can of course add this criticism to the article. However, many other measures of poverty are improving. See [2][3][4]Ultramarine 20:50, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

The Causes of poverty section

I really think the laundry list on the Causes of poverty isn't very encyclopedic. It's also completely unsourced. As such, I'm going to add citationneeded macros to obvious candidates. Ken 23:51, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Again, I've added a macro that was deleted calling for references. Ken 04:19, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

Is the "Procrastination" item serious? -- 04:58, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

It appears that someone removed my addition to this section, that refers to one of the causes of poverty being the inherent selfishness of people. It is true that if those who have gave to those who have not, there would be no poverty. Does someone dissent to my pointing this out? I was even generous enough to list it as "a" cause, as opposed to "the" cause, and to append it to the end of the list, as opposed to giving it the prominence that it deserves.

If instead of sitting around and making lists, everyone like you used the resources available to them to actively alleviate the poverty of those who are immediately in need, then there would be no poverty. It's very convenient to blame George Bush or the right wing or America or Osama Bin Laden, but the fact of the matter is, you have in excess of your need while many children starve to death every day. Since 1997, the world has produced enough food to feed all its inhabitants. To the extent of your excess, you are personally responsible for poverty since you are 1) witholding from those who live in want and 2) trusting or valuing material wealth over love and compassion, and thereby setting an example for your fellow man to follow.

Please don't remove my addition to this section. It is true and therefore a valid point, and it deserves to be read by those who might consider it, even if this idea does not appeal to someone like you. Remove it again and I will afix it again.

"Sell your possessions, give to the poor and follow [Christ]" - I'm sorry to break this news to you, but unfortunately there's no other way. Poverty is not the result of a political or economic system but rather a moral condition, and not necessarily of the one it affects but always of the one who causes it. Satya Graham 23:29, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Well, Mr Darcy & Mr Pigman, I have reaffixed my contribution only to have both of you fine gentlemen remove it once again. I admit that it is an unappealing observation, and in hindsight I can see that my choice of quotation may have affected your judgement. However, as a former investment banker who has taken a personal vow of poverty to succour the poor, I assure you that the voice of experience would convince you this is not a POV. Pure logic should tell you that, but I guess Twain was right when he said, "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt." There is a reason why one must be poor in order to take up the side of the poor. I leave the management of this most useful page in your capable hands, knowing that one way or another you will see it my way in the end. Satya Graham 03:40, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

Educational funding and opportunity

Both are valid hypotheses for causes of poverty. In fact, the more inequitable the opportunity and funding per nation, the larger the differences between the wealthy and the very poor. --Kukini 02:28, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Once again, please do not delete these two causes as they are not the same as "lack of education."--Kukini 19:05, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
Could you take a look at the comments on this page under the section: "Dr S.Marques' Comments" I'm thinking this page needs a major revision of the causes section and I'd like some feed back. futurebird 19:32, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

No working democracy as a cause?

It reflects a single POV to say that a lack of a working democracy causes poverty. It's not that the countries don't have democracy, but rather that they do have political oppression that matters here.futurebird 21:11, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

My bad on deleting this, but the below need to remain, particularly if several of the others, including this one, remains. --Kukini 02:28, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Op-Ed pieces are not good sources

Using a 3-year old op-ed story from the times by a conservative columnist like David Brooks as a source isn't very compelling. Especially to back up a statement like "Income inequality for the world as a whole may be diminishing." when most other indicators are pointing in the other direction. In the piece written in 2004 Brooks talks about a short term trend that has since reversed. That is why I removed this "sourced" statement.futurebird 05:22, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

What other indicators? The article refers to scholarly studies, like this one [5], it is not only the personal opinons of David Brooks.Ultramarine 09:23, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
Brooks citied a study that at the time of the publication of his Op-Ed in 2004 stated that income inequality gaps had begun to close. That "trend" has since reversed. According to the UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) 2005 only 9 countries (4% of the world’s population) have reduced their wealth gap between, whilst 80% of the world’s population have recorded an increase in wealth inequality. Human Development Report 2005
From the abstract of 2001 article Brooks uses as his source for "good news"

Unless Africa starts growing in the near future, we project that income inequalities will start rising again. If Africa does not start growing, then China, India, the OECD and the rest of middle-income and rich countries diverge away from it, and global inequality will rise.

The Disturbing "Rise" of Global Income Inequality Xavier Sala-i-Martin, August 2001

One need only look at the graphs on our own poverty page to see this has not happened.futurebird 13:44, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
Be careful when looking at the last year of the graphs. Regarding Africa, see this [6]. Regarting the HDR, could you give page numbers. Note that wealth inequality in natiins may well increase but world inequality may decrease at the same time if all people in poor nations become more (but less equally) wealthy.Ultramarine 14:31, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

Just to clarify, is your problem the conservative author or the age of the citation? Age of the citation could be legit. An issue with the politics of the author is not. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:57, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

High government spending and "Improper taxation" need better sourcing

This source related to USA only, and opinion articles are not good sources.

Opinion Article from Christian Science Monitor

Likewise, this source for "Improper taxation" is only about Alabama.

Alabama taxes poor hardest By Phillip Rawls

I could not find any sources that supported these ideas as global problems. So, if there are no objections I will remove them both.futurebird 14:33, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Describing the debate

Let's discuss this section. I don't believe the current "left wing"/"right wing" description is all that accurate, and is too vague to be meaningful, and probably too POV. For example, I don't see how reducing crime and corruption is "right wing". See the article history for my proposed revision, which eliminated political labels in favor of ideological descriptions. Pusher robot 17:34, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

There may be problem with both versions. Preferably would be something sourced, otherwise we could remove this section.Ultramarine 17:50, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

I have attempted to describe the debate in general terms and have rearranged others' contributions to enhance the flow of the entry. I tried not to delete too much so if you can't find your previous edits I probably moved them to another section. I also created a new section, Is Poverty Getting Worse, to illustrate the significance of debates over measurement. I moved the material on inequality to causes of poverty. I hope that others can make clearer why it belongs there. I hope that long-termers are not too annoyed by these bold moves - in good faith Wanderingatlarge 03:22, 4 November 2007 (UTC).

Lack of Property Rights as a Cause?

I have an issue with this particular citation as it comes from the I.M.F. - an organization whose neutrality I question.

This citation starts with, "Walk down most roads in the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, or Latin America, and you will see many things: houses used for shelter; parcels of land being tilled, sowed, and harvested; merchandise being bought and sold. Assets in developing and former communist countries primarily serve these immediate physical purposes. In the West, however, the same assets also lead a parallel life as capital outside the physical world. They can be used to put in motion more production by securing the interests of other parties as "collateral" for a mortgage, for example, or by assuring the supply of other forms of credit and public utilities."

Of course, land may be used in this way, but for whatever reason, the people in these examples have chosen not to pursue these options. This does not mean that these individuals are now doomed to relative destitution. They till the land, exchange merchandise, and use the land to produce "...immediate physical purposes...” this example is clearly a free market in action. It appears that the author of this paper, as well as his sponsor - the I.M.F. - are dissatisfied that these people aren't also using this land to indenture themselves or others through "...other forms of credit..."

In essence, it's saying that poverty is reduced through indebtedness to the "...interests of other parties...” that poverty is reduced by contractual obligations - "...other forms of credit...”

Perhaps we should remove "lack of property rights," until a more suitable citation and discussion of just what is a proprietary right and a better source of data is found to support this position. Western culture defines property rights in one particular way but this does not mean that this one way is the only way, or that it is necessarily acceptable to the rest of the world.

Can I get an a-men? T.C. Craig 18:20, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

NPOV requires the inclusion of significant views and this is one. If you are critical of this view and can find a source, add it.Ultramarine 18:24, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
Concur. This does not purport to be "the actual list of causes" but rather "causes that are cited." Pusher robot 19:01, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
I failed to find a source critical of the theory that a "lack of property rights" is a cause of poverty. And of course I couldn’t! Who would argue that a lack of possession is not a cause of poverty? I could find, however, that there were plenty of arguments regarding property rights as it relates to certain forms of property -illicit drugs, genes, and genetically engineered life forms, for example. There was a myriad of arguments against property rights as they relate to these concepts.
I discovered that my criticism of this "cited cause" was fueled by my underlying assumptions of what "property" is. My assumption bases itself on the idea that "property” can be anything, and therefore, property can only be defined by the values of the perceiving culture – and since one perceiving culture may view property differently than another, citing a lack of property, or proprietary rights, as a cause of poverty makes no objective sense.
What I failed to realize is that this source is using the term property in a capitalistic context. In my opinion, what the “lack of property rights” means is a “lack of the right to pursue ownership of capital goods.” –A right generally contested by pure Marxism and other forms of Marxist theory.
However, I would only like to change the ambiguous definition: “the lack of property rights,” to a more concise definition: “Lack of the right to pursue ownership of capital goods,” as this definition is more consistent with the cited material.
T.C. Craig 20:53, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
I see nothing wrong with using "property rights", it is commmonly assumed to mean general property rights, not only the personal property of for example clothes which also the Communist states had. Obviously Marx and socialism in general would reject property rights. I will change the text.Ultramarine 21:25, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
"I see nothing wrong with using "property rights"..."; unfortunately, I do. One is more precise and follows the cited material more closely to its intended meaning; the other does not.
If I'm not mistaken, these articles are driven by both fact and reason with lesser reasoning, precision, and fact, giving way to greater uses thereof. Unless you can give me a reasonable argument -other than style- for why we should reject a far more precise definition devoid of "'commonly' accepted..." assumptions I am going to change it. While I appreciate your offer to change the text, I am more than capable of doing this myself. T.C. Craig 21:52, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
"Rule of law." Interesting. I might be willing to accept that. By the way, my above response was written before I saw the changes. T.C. Craig 21:56, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Explanations for tags

Added "dubious" to the 1% claim because of the following: according to the U.S. Federal Budget, total outlays were 2,479 billion in 2005. 1% of this would by 24.7 billion, and according to the OECD reports cited in the article, the US government gave over 27 billion in the same year. So it appears that based on primary sources, it is not accurate to state that US foreign aid accounted for less than 1% of the total budget. Pusher robot 19:33, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

ARTICLE NEEDS MAJOR CLEANUP - references and such

I did some editing to remove blockquotes from reference tags, but overall this article still has a long, long way to go. References should not be to other wikipedia articles. /ClintonKu 15:44, 30 February 2007 (UTC)

While undoubtedly the article could be improved in many ways, exactly what references do you find objectionable? There are some links to other Wikipedia articles in the references, but only to articles describing books or reports. Thus, the reference is not the the article, but to the book or report.Ultramarine 16:14, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
This is from the current article: "Funds from aid and natural resources are often diverted into private hands and then sent to banks overseas as a result of graft.[62] If Western banks rejected stolen money, says a report by Global Witness, ordinary people would benefit "in a way that aid flows will never achieve".[62] The report asked for more regulation of banks as they have proved capable of stanching the flow of funds linked to terrorism, money-laundering or tax evasion.[62]" I found that to be fascinating, but reference 62 links to an article on malnutrition in children, and it does not mention anything in the quote. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:06, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

Forms of govenment

Shouldn't the use of the word 'Monarchy' be replaced with 'feudalism'? In fact, couldnt you argue the entire section redundant because it literally lists pretty much every type of government except republic and democracy which have elements of socialism and/or capitalism in?

Proposed deletion of graph

As it is currently rendered, the wikipedia-user generated graph "Percentage living under $1 per day" is incorrect and misleading. It is incorrect because, according to page 13 of its cited source [7], it is actually the percentage of people earning less than $1.08 in 1993 Purchasing power parity, and then adjusted for inflation based on each country's CPI. As it stands, it is like a map without a scale. Some of the labels are also incorrect (e.g. it should read "Latin America and Caribbean" instead of "Latin America"). It is misleading, for the purposes of this page, because the study shows that the absolute number of people living in poverty (which the authors define as below $2.15 in 1993 PPP) has actually increased during the period in question (it defines the smaller number as "extreme poverty"). Just wanted to discuss this first before taking any action. Notmyrealname 22:24, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

These are not very interesting details for most people. The abstract of article speaks about $1 dollar per day, not $1.08, as does the World Bank when talking about this study.[8] By clicking on the graph the more exact information can be found. Looking at absolute numbers is what is misleading, since the world population has increased at the same time.Ultramarine 22:31, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, the standard here should be that we include graphs that are both interesting and accurate. The table where you got the numbers from very clearly states what they refer to. And it would appear that the authors of the paper might disagree with your other contention, as they clearly state in the abstract (as well as throughout the article) that there is a clearly disturbing increase in the absolute number of people living on less than $2.15 a day, or what the authors and the World Bank define as "poverty" (oddly, also the title of this wikipedia article!). Notmyrealname 23:04, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
They mention $1 far more than any other numbers and again see the WB's own website which quotes this study extensively.[9]Ultramarine 23:09, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
The study was published by the World Bank, so I'm sure they quote it. "$1 per day" is a handy public relations shorthand, but as the authors quite explicitly show, they are discussing people living under $1.08 1993 PPP per day and $2.15 1993 PPP per day. The higher figure they list as "Poverty," and the lower figure they list as "Extreme poverty." The authors also show that the average daily income for people under the $1.08 benchmark is actually $0.77 per day (in 2001) and only $1.25 per day for those under the higher amount. So what the figures show is that a lot of people got a $0.50 per day raise over twenty years, but they are still living in poverty. This seems pretty relevant for an article called "poverty" (never mind the fact that these are incredibly arbitrary and contentious benchmarks to begin with). Notmyrealname 23:24, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
What is important is that the percentage of people living on less than 1 dollar per day has halved in 20 years and the percentage living on less than 2 dollar per day decreased substantially. Ultramarine 23:27, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Other Approaches

This section is IMO in need of some major cleanup. It is full of unsourced speculation and what is probably link spam. I propose eliminating most of it. Thoughts? Pusher robot 23:01, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Causes of poverty section

I've just removed a bunch of unsourced claims from this section, but the whole piece is a poor way of includung this type of content. We should be reflecting the significant opinions of experts in the field and documenting the major disagreements/ areas of convergence. We seem to be simply listing everything anyone has ever heard mentioned as a cause of poverty. Does anyone have any suggestions on better ways to develop this section? -- SiobhanHansa 13:27, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

I made some changes today experimentally to shift us to a narrative format at least. I am aware that citations are lacking - it would be great if people could add citations rather than immediately remove the offending sentences, wherever possible, and I'll work on this myself as time permits. Wanderingatlarge 12:04, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

About the image.......

Jakarta slumlife65.JPG

Okay. I KNOW that this image was a featured picture. I KNOW that other people like it. However, there is something about that image that puts me off. It shows a smiling boy holding a beat up barbie doll. While I think I may understand the logic behind this picture, (We are supposed to feel bad about the level of expectations that poverty has forced onto the boy) in my opinion, the image should show, say, a starving African family. That would potray, in my opinion, a clearer image of poverty. Fusion7 17:18, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

External links

I've tried to clean these up - removed the links to poverty fighting organizations etc. and tried to keep the links that instead provide more encyclopedic information about poverty while deleting the ones that provided fairly similar sorts of information,. Not sure about the balance - I think the section could use more work, but it has at least lost most of the soapbox and directory aspects. I removed the external links tag - if someone thinks this needs replacing please do so and note here what issues still remain. Thanks. -- SiobhanHansa 20:46, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Intro needs lots of work

The intro to this article is terrible. There are many issues with it:

  • The second sentence has a bold "poverty" (even though we've aready described poverty in sentence #1.
  • Why does the article begin with "is understood in many senses". This gets the article off to a bad start
  • Bullet points in the intro? This isn't the standard practice for intro-writing. It certainly doesn't belong for a topic like Poverty. What even worse: this intro has two bullet point sections. This is a practice I have never seen.
  • Factors that identify poverty? Should be in its own section, not in the intro.
  • In the end, it is just too long and not focused.

Someone, please rewrite the intro completely. ClintonKu 15:04, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

I have made an attempt at rewriting the first paragraph. I hope this is a useful starting point. I also believe that much of what is in the introduction could be used in the body of the text. I should note that I have not edited before.

"Poverty is intuitively understood by many to mean the condition of having little money and few material possessions. Not all agree on the undesirability of poverty, with a number of spiritual traditions emphasising the virtue of voluntary renunciation of attachment to material goods, and disavowing the logic of accumulation. In international and community development literature however, poverty has the additional meaning of inability to meet basic needs. While some seek to define poverty in economic terms, others consider social and political arrangements to be intrinsic to poverty. Debate on the causes, effects and measurement of poverty directly influences the design and implementation of poverty reduction programs and is thus important to the fields of international development and public administration." Wanderingatlarge 10:52, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

The "Measuring Poverty" section

I earlier tried out a new section 'is poverty worsening' in an attempt to be more reflective of debates on poverty and less suggestive of a particular consensus POV. I concede to Ultramarine though that in the absence of compelling evidence that poverty is worsening this was not effective. Perhaps a better area where we can show a debate is in the criticisms around measurements. The entry currently notes that there are criticisms - do others agree it would be good to briefly spell out what these are? Wanderingatlarge 12:01, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

Democracy doesn't stop poverty

A good dictatorship like that of Ataturk was great for economic development. Another example is "Franco's dictatorship developed Spain (turned it into the 9th industrial power on earth), and in year 1975-96, the country re-modeled as a democracy."[10]

Also, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, though not industrialized, are a dictatorships with high GDP per capitas.--07:29, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Agreed, but there is a lengthy list of items which are "possible" causes of poverty (both proximate and ultimate) and at least one (cited) book is making this argument. Pointing this out is one of the items in this list least worthy of a "POV assertion" tag. Wherether or not each of these causes actually does lead to poverty will need to be an article in itself.
--Wragge 10:27, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
There are a significant number of poverty stricken democratic nations, and a significant proportion of undemocratic nations are doing quite well for themselves. Thus I think it's fair to say that the cause of poverty doesn't have so much to do with the level of citizen involvement in the government, but rather their intentions and leadership abilities, whether they're democratically elected or not. I removed the paragraph about democracy because I don't believe it was neutral.

Sbw01f (talk)

Single examples do not prove anything, is a statistical trende counting many nations that is interesting. Please do not remove sourced arguments.Ultramarine (talk) 15:50, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

I found absolutely no evidence in that article that pointed to the possibility of democracy reducing poverty, or a lack of democracy increasing poverty. Further, the original statement citing this article - "Poor participation in decision-making by the majority population in countries in which democracy is weak or non-existent can impede the development of the country, and raise tensions which further worsen proverty" - seems to be agenda pushing nonsense. The article says nothing of the sort, and does not attempt to link poverty directly to democracy in any way. Therefore the only possible conclusion is that the above statement came from original research.

See: Wikipedia:No_original_research

"Citing sources and avoiding original research are inextricably linked: to demonstrate that you are not presenting original research, you must cite reliable sources that provide information directly related to the topic of the article, and that directly support the information as it is presented." Sbw01f (talk) 14:50, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

  • The current statment is "Lacking democracy" which the source clearly supports. If you want to dispute this, add an opposing source. Here is one quote "The records when we look at social dimensions of development—access to drinking water, girls' literacy, health care—are even more starkly divergent. For example, in terms of life expectancy, poor democracies typically enjoy life expectancies that are nine years longer than poor autocracies. Opportunities of finishing secondary school are 40 percent higher. Infant mortality rates are 25 percent lower. Agricultural yields are about 25 percent higher, on average, in poor democracies than in poor autocracies—an important fact, given that 70 percent of the population in poor countries is often rural-based."[11]Ultramarine (talk) 11:48, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

This is still disputable because the article is speaking of poor countries specifically, not developed or industrialized countries. This article does not support the notion that democracies reduce poverty on a whole, only that democratic poor nations are less poor than autocratic poor nations. One could still argue that if, for example, Canada became a dictatorship tomorrow, the level of poverty would not necessarily rise. If you wish to clarify that and add it to the article, go right ahead.

Sbw01f (talk) 15:12, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Same source: "One, our analysis focused on poor countries with per capita incomes below $2,000 a year. We did this because there isn't any debate that wealthier countries are better off as democracies, and that wealthy democracies have the most sterling track record at accumulating assets and wealth over time." Ultramarine (talk) 15:22, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Look at Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Libya etc..for proof of the contrary. There are many more examples in history where the worlds most well-off nations were autocracies. The article presents no statistics or facts to back that statement up. Though it appears you used my earlier suggestion and made the point more clear as to what the article was really saying, so this argument is moot.

Sbw01f (talk) 15:38, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

And I can cite North Korea, Burma, Zimbabwe, and many others that are very poor autocracies. Cuba was rich before the revolution and not advanced much since. Libya and Saudi Arabia are rich due to oil, not the government policies. But again, individual examples do not count, the overall trend is what is important.Ultramarine (talk) 15:42, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Misleading captions on images in this article

People are adding captions to images which make gross assumptions about what you can see in the picture. "Siblings living in extreme poverty near a dump in El Salvador with no access to safe drinking water" - without going in to the nitpicking of whether it's hyperbolic to say "extreme poverty" (what constitutes extreme in this case?), what on earth allows you to say "with no access to safe drinking water"? For all we know, there could be a standpipe just right of frame.

Then there is "Rubbish picking is a common livelihood strategy for people living in poverty around the world, with many communities growing around garbage dumps, as shown here in East Cipinang, Jakarta, Indonesia." What exactly about that image a community growing around a garbage dump? All I see is a kid holding up something he's found in a tip.

I can understand that poverty is an upsetting topic for people, but this is an encyclopedia. Please don't just twist the meaning of pictures used in articles in order to illustrate something that you see as a particular issue. Robotforaday (talk) 22:45, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Which image is better portrayal of poverty?

Urban Poverty.jpg

Urban Poverty Image

  • Urban poverty is a major crisis in developing countries.
  • The slums show poverty in its actuality
  • The slums show the contrast between the lives of people who are rich and poor, thus exemplifying poverty
  • There is no image of urban poverty on this page

Washing Clothes Image

  • This image doesnt really show much
  • There are personality rights issues with this image
  • People washing their clothes doesnt show poverty Nikkul (talk) 20:28, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
Strong support for urban poverty image. Would go so far as to say that it should be the lead image, rather than the one of the kid holding up a barbie doll, which illustrates very little other than a kid holding up a barbie doll. Robotforaday (talk) 06:39, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
The Urban poverty image is the better choice. I found a picture similar to the one of India, not sure if it makes a difference or not. -- LaNicoya  •Talk•  09:55, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
The kids in the dump are a much better picture of poverty. Second choice would be the homeless guy with the shopping cart. It is important not to confuse low income with poverty. Low income means that you have all the food, water, clothing and shelter that you need, poverty means you don't. (talk) 04:56, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Poverty reduction

Most of this section needs to be deleted - it is word for word the same as the article poverty reduction except that it is more up to date. Why have a link and a separate article if it is useless clicking on it? The subarticle needs to be summarized in one paragraph in this article and leave all the details in the subarticle. I think it is important to add the quote from Jesus that the poor will always be with you, but that that does not mean abject poverty. Add the quote that eliminating abject poverty is a realistic goal. It doesn't mean bringing everyone up to x dollars income. You can achieve it just as easily by dropping income instead of raising it. You achieve it by insuring that everyone has adequate food, water, clothing and shelter. None of those inherently cost anything. It is easy to see from the reducing poverty section that people have been spinning their wheels for thousands of years griping about doing something about poverty - yet when you have twenty avenues creating poverty and only ten eliminating it there should be no surprise at the result.


main poverty reduction
In politics, the fight against poverty is usually regarded as a social goal and many governments have institutions or departments dedicated to tackling poverty. One of the main debates in the field of poverty reduction is around the question of how actively the state should manage the economy and provide public services to tackle the problem of poverty. In the nineties, international development policies focused on a package of measures known as the Washington Consensus which involved reducing the scope of state activities, and reducing state intervention in the economy, reducing trade barriers and opening economies to foreign investment. In the current decade, the importance of strong and functioning states to poverty reduction is more widely recognised. Vigorous debate over these issues continues however, and most poverty reduction programs attempt to increase both the competitiveness of the economy and the viability of the state.
Jesus said "the poor you will always have with you". This is true, in the sense of relative poverty. Poverty is part of human nature. Eliminating abject poverty, however, should be a realistic goal, according to John Daniel, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, 2001-2004.[1] Buckminster Fuller, in the book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, proposed that all unemployed should receive a life fellowship, paid for by the net benefit to society, saying that for every 100,000 fellowships one probably will make a breakthrough that will more than pay for the other 99,000.[2] (talk) 04:56, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Relatively short article. Probably better to just redirect the "Poverty reduction" article here.Ultramarine (talk) 08:47, 16 February 2008 (UTC)
It's long enough - about 14 kB, and would take a useful chunk out of this too long article. It is linked in the lead, indicating correctly that there are many poverty reduction programs. The trend is always to split off sections into subarticles as more details are added, not gather them up into humongous articles that are problematic for dial-up users. (talk) 18:15, 16 February 2008 (UTC)
59 kB is not very long. Difficult to separate poverty reduction from causes of poverty. Regardless, menyioning Jesus should not in a summary.Ultramarine (talk) 12:49, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
Leave Jesus alone! ;) Why can't Jesus be in a summary? Beamathan (talk) 17:55, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Lack v. Denial

Denial is a strong POV word which implies 1) someone physically preventing someone from gaining acess to things which remove them from poverty and 2) someone action is necessary to stop or prevent that denial.

Lack is a better, neutral, non POV word which can be interpreted positivly by both welfare statists and free market individuals.

There is no need for the article to pick sides and use the word denial. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:38, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Sounds fair enough. <bable> —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:44, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

Education Index map

Just letting you guys know it's here incase someone wants to add it to the article somewhere.

Education index UN HDR 2007 2008.PNG

Sbw01f (talk) 14:35, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

Poverty measure

Is the global poverty measured per person or per family?--J intela (talk) 12:12, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

Usually measured by number of individuals although data is often collected by household.radek (talk) 18:14, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

Effects of welfare states

I think this section is increadebly biased and contibutes no relevent information to the rest of the article thier for i'm removing it.--J intela (talk) 14:14, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

It is sourced and is explicitly about poverty levels. If you have other reliable sources that counter the view provided then we can update the section to reflect due weight. For now I have restored it as it was. -- SiobhanHansa 15:57, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
I think the effect of welfare states information should be incorporated into other sections. Maybe the causes of poverty section, such as how government policies effect poverty and the poverty reduction section.Nicehumor (talk) 02:17, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Cleaning this article up

It's pretty obvious that this article is way too long. Factual and verifiable info is mixed in with lots of POV pushing and political rants. Some of the sources are way way way outdated going back to the 70's. Another problem is that the article has lost focus. A lot of other related issues are being discussed rather than concentrating on Poverty per se. For example, in the poverty reduction section we have stuff on export substitution/import substitution, the Washington consensus, and good governance. But none of these has a direct impact on poverty. They all work on poverty through the channel of economic growth which is also mentioned in the section (and which should be expanded). So these should be removed or combined into a sentence or two. In contrast things like microloans, development aid, and empowering women have a direct effect on poverty and should be kept (and expended). The other items are sort of in between. Basically, it should be kept in mind that this is an article on Poverty and not on Economic Development. Of course the latter affects the former but we need to keep things focused here.

The article also needs a TON of npov-ing.radek (talk) 18:52, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Virtuos poverty

Is this: "Although poverty is mainly considered to be undesirable due to the pain and suffering it may cause, in certain spiritual contexts "voluntary poverty," involving the renunciation of material goods, is seen by some as virtuous." really needed? In the lead? Unsourced? Unless someone can give a compelling reason, gonna remove it in the drive to clean up, focus and shorten this article.radek (talk) 21:01, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

World-systems perspective

The section on WST needs to be trimmed by A LOT, per undue weight. It's just one perspective among many, who's heyday was like 35 years ago, and while there may still be some Sociologists who ascribe to it virtually no economists take it seriously and data just don't support it. At the very least counter views need to be presented, but given the fact that the article is way way too long as is, it's probably better to reduce it to a few sentences and then add different perspectives.radek (talk) 07:03, 13 February 2009 (UTC)


Those parts were removed for a reason. Most of them are not relevant to the topic at hand. Most of them rely on sources that are very very out dated. There are all kinds of issue of undue weight. Please don't reinsert them without providing sufficient justification.radek (talk) 04:08, 15 February 2009 (UTC)

Ok, one more time

The article has the following problems: 1. It is too long, badly organized and often strays off topic 2. It is POV in many places, for example in the "Global Imbalances" section [12] which is really just one long political rant and completely non-encyclopedic. 3. The article has many UNDUE WEIGHT issues, particularly with respect to the presentation of "World Systems Theory", which is one idea among many, it is out dated by about 35 years (as can be easily discerned from the publishing date of all the sources used to "support" it) and is not taken seriously by most people working in development these days (it's also telling that all the articles cited are by Sociologists and not Economists). 4. Often times the article forgets what it is and diverges into separate issues. Even the clean up template makes this mistake - the HDI index is not poverty, is not directly related to poverty and as such shouldn't be prominently featured in this article. Of course since it might be correlated with poverty it's fine to mention it in the text and link to other wiki pages - and in fact this is the approach that this article needs in a lot of places; trim the text that's not directly about poverty down and provide links to other articles instead. 5. This one's not as bad but in reading the article it seems like some countries are given undue weight as well, in particular East Asian countries, whereas most poverty in the world today (aside from China) is found in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia. In particular, I think it's great that Thailand has such a good record on poverty reduction, but the country is just over emphasized in this article.

To expand on 3; Yes we could add other views to "balance" it but in light of 1) (and to some extent 2)) this would just make the article even longer on a topic that properly belongs somewhere else. The entire WTS section needs to be trimmed down to a single paragraph and a link to [13] (and it should be mentioned in this article that WTS is a Marxist approach).

Finally, edit warring should be avoided and changes should be discussed. My comments above have been sitting there for a week without a response.radek (talk) 21:48, 15 February 2009 (UTC)

That material was removed for a reason again


^ Overproduction of Goods, Unequal Distribution of Wealth, High Unemployment, and Massive Poverty, From: President’s Economic Council [3] is NOT President's Economic Council report but an Omaha Public School lesson plan. It is not a reliable source. That's why it was removed. I don't mind including this info in the article but it needs an RS.

  • This: [14] is from 2005 and it's not clear whether it's talking about real GDP, nominal GDP, per capita, purchasing power parity adjusted or not. Hence I replaced it with most up to date data from the WDI (the ref should be moved from the first paragraph.
  • "catastrophic" is POV. "large" is more encyclopedic.
  • The table is for OECD countries - most poverty is NOT in rich countries. I guess it'd be okay to have a separate section on poverty in rich countries (though note that the poverty thresholds used in rich countries are way way way higher than the 1$ and 2$ per day used for poor countries)
  • The text on the brain drain is basically overemphasized. There's a debate on this. Offsetting the brain drain you have large inflow of remittances that the skilled workers send back home. Also brain drain occurs among people who if they had stayed would not have been considered poor in their home country. If we were to treat the issue in a npov manner we would need to include these other factors (together with sources). But the main thing is that this is overemphasized relative to other issues.

And as far as I can see I'm the only one here trying to discuss this.radek (talk) 19:04, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Mob Rule is not empowerment

Empowering women has helped some countries increase and sustain economic development (increase in both positive and ignoring the negative ways/sustain for how long and what pace and never decrease?). When given more rights and opportunities women begin to receive more education (who pays the teachers, who dies so people are free to teach), thus increasing the overall human capital of the country (which woman would like to work in the landfills and be empowered to look at the waste of both man and woman capital gains); when given more influence women seem to act more responsibly in helping people in the family or village (objective and emotional deduction - woman are incorruptible?); and when better educated and more in control of their lives, women are more successful in bringing down rapid population growth "because" they have more say in family planning. (does family planning produce a plant or raise a cow? rapid population growth is worse than rapid population slow down?)

please stop parading your own agendas, when poverty is the cause of both man and woman. actually if a woman chooses to have more babies, the logic is that there will be more chances one of them has a future worth of their contribution to their respected society, this is true empowerment. To have less babies is to have worse chances. Perhaps you have never drank out of your toilet before, that may empower you to the realities on the ground, its called desperation. It is only through these conditions, a woman can see her gift to humanity is much more than family planning. If you were not able to have a baby, I think your ideas of having less or having more would be changed. Because you kill more babies, then you feed less, it makes you seem like you are solving a problem. Do I need a report/reference.

In poverty, animals have no rights, much less humans, your ideas or freedom/independence/empowerment are constructed by your environment not others. In fact, what you think you are doing, can cause potential injury to a culture against this, yet you bear no burden of your empowerment, you not only tell others but you impose this idea that free is to be independent, but independence is when you have people who depend on you. Both man and woman are uneducated in poverty, because of their needs to survive have being trampled by the thought if they were to go to school, they can work in a cubicle and think poverty has been eliminated?

The problem of poverty is because the city, (both man/woman live there), thinks it can hold nature as a slave. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:15, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Biased class conflict

The class conflict section makes no sense whatsoever when it blames foreign investment for blocking poverty reduction. The only example cited was Mexico, which the article makes clear failed to maintain foreign investment after 2000 due to Chinese competition among other factors. Yet the Chinese have had extensive economic growth and poverty reduction by attracting these same corporate investors. So it seems surreal to blame the investors for causing poverty when the investment climate was inadequate to maintain the investment needed for growth in the first place. (talk) 23:40, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Harlem Photo

Malcolm X Blvd124.JPG

The use of the Harlem photo is disingenuous. The image's description reads: "They appeared derelict because the tenants were removed. The area is actually the wealthiest area of Harlem; typical row houses nearby sell for $1-2M." I'm sure we can find a better, more genuine image of poverty. Brianga (talk) 23:21, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

Also, the caption is reporting incorrect information. The statistic that is cited, according to the provided footnote, is not actually from 2006, but 2000, rather. This should be changed--anonymous

Poverty Map

The poverty map shows China has having the least poverty in the world....just guessing, but looking at the statistics on their per capita income I think thats in error. Fuzbaby (talk) 00:17, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

Page protection

There is too much IP vandalism in this article. If there is no comment, I will request for semi-protection of this article. Nicehumor (talk) 23:06, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

Obstacles to Productivity - POV and bad sources

"The unwillingness of governments and feudal elites to give full-fledged property rights of land to their tenants is cited as the chief obstacle to development." - Suddenly the focus is on "development"? That's an entirely different concept from poverty. Further, the citation for this sentence is an op-ed article on how to spread democracy. ( The part of the article which is used as a source does not talk about "property rights", but land reform - ie., giving land to the landless peasants. I would change this sentence to reflect that, but the rest of the paragraph goes on in the same direction, so changing the first sentence to talk about land reform would be out of place.

This entire section needs editing, as it currently only reflects free-market neoliberal values (which, i thought most rational people have realized, have been discredited by now).

At least, it should be moved further down the page. It shouldn't be at the top. And the word "productivity" ought to be changed, as it implies solely the fault of the impoverished for their poverty.

Please reply to this or I'll take the initiative and do a major reworking. (talk) 22:03, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

Dubious and POV statements from sources

I've tagged two statements backed by the article hosted on the Cato Institute's site as problematic. First, it claims that the rate of humanity living on less than a dollar a day has dropped from 75% in 1820 to 20% in 2001. Their article fails to back this claim up reliably and doesn't establish a sufficient context. What kind of dollars are we talking about? The dollar's purchasing power ought to have changed over the course of 181 years. I also doubt that worldwide data for 1820 is that easily available. And second, the Cato Institute is a think tank slanted towards economic liberalism and the extension of property rights, so it may be a little biased when it presents its goals as a solution towards reducing poverty. Don Cuan (talk) 22:15, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Scarcity of basic needs

First time looking at this article, so forgive me if this has been discussed already. RE: For example, Chinese mass production of goods has made what was once considered luxuries, such as vehicles or computers, inexpensive and thus more accessible to many who were otherwise too poor to afford them. There's no reason for China to be cited here, since mass production was making luxuries more affordable for several decades before China started its reforms. DOR (HK) (talk) 08:45, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

'Drug Abuse' section

Please rewrite or delete this section. It's worthless. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:12, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

  1. ^ Equity of Access to Quality Education: The Road to Poverty Alleviation
  2. ^ Fuller, R. Buckminster Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth ISBN 0-525-47433-1 p. 119
  3. ^