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Social Causes Of Poverty Sociology Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Although many people blame poverty on the poor, social attributes have increased this issue significantly. Social causes of poverty consist of lack of education, the family, too low of wages, immigration, and minimal job opportunities. In nearly every society today the male is the dominant figure over the females and whites are believed to be dominant over all other races. A person’s sex or race fall into play in every one of the social causes of poverty.

According to Alex Thio, poverty is usually measured in two different ways absolute or relative poverty. Absolute poverty is the lack of minimum food and shelter necessary for maintaining life. Relative poverty is a state of deprivation resulting from having less than the majority of the people have. The widely accepted definition of poverty is those who earn less than half of the nation’s median income are poor because they lack what is considered to be needed by most people to live a decent life. [1] 

The more education an individual has the more money that individual makes. Ron Haskings states that “in 2009, the difference in median family income between families headed by an individual who dropped out of high school and families headed by an individual with a bachelor’s degree or higher was about $68,600.” [2] Making it through college and earning that highly wanted bachelor’s degree may just depend on how wealthy a person’s family is or what race that person is. Haskins says that over eighty percent of white students will graduate college while only about sixty five of black and Hispanic students will graduate. Seventy nine percent of students, whose parents are within the upper class, would enroll in college and fifty three percent of that group would end up earning a four-year college degree. Only thirty four percent of students, whose parents in the bottom income classes, would enroll in college. Eleven percent of those students would end up receiving a four-year degree.” [3] Kids whose family earns less money are more likely to not attend college and will more than likely remain under the poverty line due to lack of education. Some students just do not have the intellectual ability to make it through college making them only attain a high school diploma.

Anup Shah says out of the nearly 2 billion children in the world one billion of them are living in poverty. [4] Single parent families are more likely than two parent families to be living in poverty. Ron Haskins states that “in 2009, the poverty rate for children in married-couple families was 11.0 percent. By contrast, the poverty rate for children in female-headed families was 44.3 percent.” [5] Divorce is very common in the United States and a lot of the times those individuals will not remarry. Alex Thio says “poverty affects women more than men called the feminization of poverty. Women are now more likely to be heading a household while taking care of children. Women also live longer than men contributing to older widows living in poverty. [6] Having children while not married has increased significantly in the past decade. According to Jay Wesley Richards “children born and raised outside marriage are nearly seven times more likely to live in poverty than children born to and raised by a married couple.” [7] If marriage rates would increase, divorce rates decrease, and unwedded child bearing decrease children living in poverty would decrease significantly.

The only way to avoid poverty for most individuals is to work. Work is limited though with the large overpopulation due to immigration and families having more children. Even if any individual does manage to find a job most likely the pay will be minimum wage. Ron Haskins says that “working at eight dollars and hour for 35 hours a week year round, a person would earn $14,560, $2,145 under the poverty level for a family of three.” [8] The only way a single parent working at minimum wage taking care of two children to get out of poverty would to be raise the minimum wage just enough to be right at the poverty line or above it. Wages and work however, are not fair for all races and sexes though. Alex Thio says men can escape poverty by getting a job, but women cannot escape poverty. Women are likely to get paid less than males and hold lower status jobs. An answer for this is because society has socialized women to be wives and mothers.” [9] If a male and a female held the same job the male would end up getting paid more just because he is a male even though they both have the same education and qualifications. In the United States society has impeded that whites are dominant and every other race is inferior. Races besides white also have issues in earning jobs and a fair amount of pay. Some employers will not hire workers because of their race or pay them a less amount due to their skin color.

In Sociology: A Brief Introduction Alex Thio says society creates and maintains poverty. Poverty is what allows society’s dirty work to be done. Without some dirty jobs businesses could not function such as washing dishes, hauling garbage, or cleaning. Higher paid employers would not complete these tasks and that is why they are left for the poor people of society. Affluent business people and professionals are able to achieve their career goals with the help of poor people working as maids and servants. Poverty also creates several jobs such as social workers and other professionals who serve the poor. Without poor people several people would be out of jobs and more people would be in poverty. [10] 

The United States is the number one nation that immigrants come to. Ron Haskins says “that a large number of immigrants have less than a ninth grade education.” [11] This lack of education among immigrants causes nearly all immigrants to only hold minimum paying jobs, not letting them earn enough money to lick properly and stay above the poverty line. Haskins proclaims that “the poverty rate among immigrants is higher than the poverty rate among native-born Americans. In 2009, the immigrant poverty rate was 19.0 percent as compared with 13.7 percent for native-born Americans. Given that the overall poverty rate for the nation was 14.3 percent, the poverty rate would be lower by about 0.6 percentage points (or around 1.9 million people) if the immigrant poverty rate were the same as the poverty rate for native-born citizens.” [12] Some immigrants may take jobs from Native born Americans, but the majority will not take jobs. Immigrants will have lower status and lower paying jobs due to their lack of education and their race.

The three sociological perspectives on stratification stated by Alex Theo are the following: “the functionalist perspective says the more rewarding a position is, the more motivated people are to work hard to acquire the education and skills it requires, conflict perspective says stratification limits opportunities for the underprivileged, preserves injustices, and provokes unrest, and the symbolic interactionist perspective says in their interactions, higher-status people show off their power while lower-status ones appear polite or respectful.” [13] 

Despite poverty allowing society’s dirty work to be done, helping the affluent workers reach their career goals, and creating several jobs the social causes of poverty outweigh the positive effects. People with blame poverty on the poor even though the poor are not against working and are not lazy. The social aspect of poverty is the true reason of why there is poverty in the world.


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