Poverty rates across the globe continue to be a major issue that could impair the progress of humanity as a whole. Absolute poverty means that people in this situation do not have even the basic necessities to survive, and most of these people are concentrated in low-income countries. Some progress has been made to reduce extreme poverty and child mortality rates by improving health and literacy rates, but the distribution of wealth and prestige is vastly uneven (Kendall, 2018). At first, it was thought that the issue of global poverty was linked to low gross national income, but its increase did not help the poorest but instead created more inequality (Kendall, 2018). These findings produced a different approach to reducing poverty, and the human development index was introduced.
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The focus has shifted to increasing such parameters as life expectancy, the overall level of education, and living standards in low-income countries with high poverty levels. Several key problems were identified, starting with high infant mortality and population growth rates, which stem from gender inequality. According to Kendall (2018), these issues are linked to “lack of equal educational opportunity, the disadvantage in control over resources and assets in the household, gender disparities in work, and lower overall pay than men” (p. 225). Fighting poverty with increased income per person in poorer countries did not work, and sociologists produced multiple theories on exact factors that are to be improved in order to reduce inequality.
Malnutrition and related problems are common among nations with high poverty rates.
The establishment of proper health care facilities is one of the most important steps, as lower-income countries have higher rates of illness and disease. Kendall (2018) states that “preventable deaths from infections and parasites have a direct link to environmental conditions and poverty” (p. 230). Due to these issues, life expectancy in poverty-stricken countries is less than in high-income countries by approximately 20 years (Kendall, 2018).
With lower life expectancy, people have fewer opportunities in life and tend not to plan too much ahead, which affects society for the worse. Therefore, the average person in lower-income countries could not afford to spend more years studying. The direct link between years spent to obtain a formal education and higher wages is obvious, but educational systems in poor countries are just starting to emerge.
It is important to note that technological improvements and changes in societal structure are more effective than economic growth. However, some countries choose or are pushed to hamper the developmental process in favor of economic growth (Gupta & Vegelin, 2016). This method is rather short-sighted, as industrialization would yield not only the economic boom but also modernize societal structures. Kendall (2018) states that “family status, race/ethnicity, and gender are said to become less significant in industrialized nations” (p. 234). Meaningful progress in reducing poverty could be achieved only by combining major reforms in society, moving away from traditional caste systems, while experiencing economic growth to support these changes.
In conclusion, the situation in poverty-stricken countries still requires a major outside input to push significant changes to improve living conditions for billions of people across the globe. As stated by Kendall (2018), “healthy, educated populations are crucial for the future in order to reduce global poverty” (p. 240). The results have already proven that the development approach is an efficient strategy, now it is only a matter of global cooperation.
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Gupta, J., & Vegelin, C. (2016). Sustainable development goals and inclusive development. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law, and Economics, 16, 433–448. Web.
Kendall, D. (2018). Sociology in our times: The essentials. Cengage Learning.