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Poverty: Behavioral, Structural, Political Factors


Poverty is a major global issue, which affects all nations across the globe. It is important to note that the given problem is a complex matter, which requires a multifaceted understanding rather than a generalized or simplified approach. In other words, it has a wide range of causes and can affect different members of society to various degrees. The given research paper will primarily argue that poverty is a problem caused by a combination of behavioral, structural, and political systems, and it can have an effect on many aspects of human life, such as health, especially among children.

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Literature Review

The current literature is indicative of the fact that poverty is a complex set of issues, which has roots and effects in a wide range of facets on individual and social lives. It is stated that there are three theories, which can be used in combination in order to explain the causes of poverty, which are behavioral, structural, and political (Brady 158). The behavioral model primarily focuses on incentives and culture, which, in conjunction, determine behavior leading to poverty, and the latter reciprocally affects or creates a positive feedback loop to incentives and cultures (Brady 158). In the case of structural models, the core elements are economic and demographic contexts, which shape the behavior towards poverty, facilitate behavioral influence on poverty, and cause poverty directly (Brady 158). In other words, these influences have three nodes of influence, which can be observed at the behavioral stage, facilitation, and poverty itself. In the case of a political model, there are four major components, such as behavior, institutions, policy, and power, which all lead to or cause poverty (Brady 158). Institutions and power sources shape policies, which create poverty and facilitate behavioral patterns in favor of poverty. Although the power element leads to the problem indirectly through policies, institutions can influence poverty both directly and indirectly through policies. In other words, all three major models revolve around behavior and its facilitation of poverty, which means that interventions need to factor in institutions, power dynamics, economic and demographic contexts, incentives, and cultures.

Although the problem of poverty affects all members of society to a certain extent, the most vulnerable population is comprised of children. Child poverty is a highly intricate issue, which is caused by the environment, neighborhoods, poor parenting practices, parental stress, and income (La Placa and Corlyon 11). In other words, there is a strong chance of children brought up in poverty to remain in such a state compared to children raised with proper parental care and support. In addition, other evidence suggests that many mental health problems are due to poverty because the very physical, economic, and social environment that causes poverty is also a cofactor of mental health issues (Wahlbeck et al. 505). In other words, the effects of poverty are multifaceted, where it directly or indirectly leads to both financial and non-financial struggles.

It is important to note that the effects of poverty are most prominent in regard to overall health. It is stated that health inequality, for the most part, is facilitated by poverty (Chokshi 1312). The issue is more exacerbated in the United States, where healthcare is mostly privatized and run by for-profit organizations. One should be aware that although income is a major cofactor, wealth inequality is more severe in comparison to income inequality, which means that people in poverty not only have less access to proper healthcare services but also lack emergency funds in case of serious health problems.


It is evident that poverty is a major concern and social issue, which is caused by a complex set of factors, and thus, it should not be addressed in a simplistic manner. The changes and interventions need to be systemic, where all cofactors are handled appropriately. A potential solution cannot solely revolve around creating better incentives and financial support because power structures and institutions need also be transformed to create policies favoring people in poverty. In addition, it is of paramount importance to factor in economic and demographic contexts since certain groups can be more vulnerable to the ramifications of poverty than others. One of the most vulnerable groups includes children, who are directly dependent on their parents and unable to change the situation on their own. Mental health and health, in general, can be severely impacted by poverty, which diminishes one’s capability to escape poverty, and thus, it creates a positive feedback loop, where for individuals in poverty, it becomes even more challenging to find ways to reverse their financial state.


In conclusion, it is important to note that poverty is a multifaceted and complex issue. It is caused by a combination of political, structural, and behavioral systems, which facilitate poverty both directly and indirectly. The effects are also intricate and systemic, where individuals in poverty suffer from mental health complications, overall health inequality, and many other problems, such as homelessness. Children are the most affected and vulnerable groups to the issue, which can lead to developmental problems and an increase in their likelihood of becoming subjected to poverty during their adulthood.

Works Cited

Brady, David. “Theories of the Causes of Poverty.” Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 45, no. 1, 2019, pp. 155-175.

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Chokshi, Dave. “Income, Poverty, and Health Inequality.” JAMA, vol. 319, no. 13, 2018, pp. 1312-1313.

La Placa, Vincent, and Judy Corlyon. “Unpacking the Relationship between Parenting and Poverty: Theory, Evidence and Policy.” Social Policy and Society, vol. 15, no. 1, 2016, pp. 11-28.

Wahlbeck, Kristian, et al. “Interventions to Mitigate the Effects of Poverty and Inequality On Mental Health.” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, vol. 52, 2017, pp. 505–514.

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