Causes of Poverty – Essay

Poverty is the state of being extremely poor’ or ‘the state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount’. But poverty is not as straightforward as that. It is not easy to define poverty. Poverty is a complex concept, which may include social, economic, and political, psychological, and environmental elements.

Poverty is a global phenomenon. Even the developed and richest countries have citizens who are struggling with poverty. According to The Global Poverty Report 2018, 10.9% of the world population is living on less than $2 a day. Another source says – almost half the world i.e. over three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 60 million children are not attending school. There are different causes that can lead to poverty condition.

Causes of Poverty

The concept of poverty is multifaceted, complex, and variable. There are a number of major and minor causes behind the state of poverty of poor people living around the world. The causes of poverty can be grouped from various angles.

  • Income Inequality

When a country performs good economic growth the overall poverty of the country reduces. But if the national income is not distributed among all communities and people of that country then the rich will be richer and the poor will be poorer. 

  • Lack of Livelihoods Assets / Capital

 Some experts blame the lack of assists or capitals that form a base for sustainable livelihoods. The idea of assets/ capitals is central to the SLA (sustainable livelihoods approach). The five assets of the poor that need to be addressed are Human Capital, Social Capital, Natural Capital, Physical Capital, and Financial Capital.

  • Wars, Conflicts, and Unrest

 Studies show that as many as 33% of communities living in abject or absolute poverty lives in places of unrest and conflict. Nations that have faced years of tribal and/ or civil wars that have resulted in massive losses of human and other resources. Wars, unrests, and conflicts cause large-scale unemployment, business loss, and material loss/ damage that ultimately lead to poverty.

  • Unfavourable Geographic Locations and Conditions

 If a country or a particular community within that country lies in an unfavourable location or extreme climatic condition the people will encounter poverty in various ways. People living in the Himalayas, the Andes, the Peru, or places of natural disasters are subject to experience poverty due to limited asset base. 

  • Natural Disaster

There are many countries that lie in such locations that are subjected to the regular visit of natural disasters like cyclones, floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornados, earthquake, tsunamis etc. These natural incidents are sudden, unexpected events that can take tolls of lives and resources and leave people unemployed, displaced, and vulnerable. 

  • Disability and Poor Health

Well-off communities/ people can be trapped into the shackles of poverty if they encounters large-scale incidences of diseases/ upheaval of poor health conditions such as HIV Aids, malaria, malnutrition etc. Disable persons or families with such people are limited in their capabilities to lead a good life. 

  • Inheritance of Poverty

Families that have encountered poverty throughout their lives are tending to pass on their poverty condition to the next generation. They fall prey to the vicious cycle of poverty. 


Poverty is difficult to define so also the exact causes of it. The causes outlined above are the prime causes of poverty. There could be other causes such as gender discrimination, lack of access to education, Training, and up-skilling,

By Ranjan