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Poverty Prevalence in the United States Research Paper


Over the past years, the issue of poverty has been one of the major targets of many policy makers. Many efforts have been directed towards poverty elimination. However, the issue of poverty remains a big threat to the society. The increasing rates of poverty have significantly affected the community (Garcia, 2011).

For a long time, poverty has been perceived to constitute lack or inadequacy of basic needs, including food, clothing, and shelter. The levels by which different societies achieve these three basic essentials vary, and this explains the differences in poverty levels among different societies.

Poverty can be viewed as a violation to the human dignity. It implies that people does not have an access to enough and equality in food, health care services, and other basic goods and services. Poverty also denies people access to education hence perpetuating their poverty cycle.

Today, America is seen to have the highest level of poverty rate compared to other industrialized countries (Garcia, 2011). To justify this, the recent and most current statistics from the Census Bureau shows that the level and rate of poverty in USA is increasing, with minority ethnic groups being the most disadvantaged (Dye, 2010).

In the past decade, numerous poverty reduction policies have been formulated and implemented, but their overall impact remains below expectations, as the main beneficiaries are the middle class in expense of the poor (Dye, 2010).

The policies that are in place therefore contribute very little in helping those who don’t have. Therefore, the situation calls for paradigm shift in policy formulation and implementation. It is only through policy reformulation that the current trends in poverty will change. Otherwise, the level of poverty will remain high.

Poverty prevalence in the United States

Over the recent past, the level of poverty in USA has increased significantly. Past studies have revealed that the level of poverty in the USA is increasing at a very high rate. For instance, the level of poverty increased by approximately 1% between the year 2009 and 2010 when it increased from 15.1percent to 14.3 percent (USA Census Bureau, 2011).

It is estimated that the rate of poverty has been increasing at an average rate of 2.6 percent. This implies the living standards may be worsening at the same rate. According to the USA Census Bureau (2011), about 46.2 million Americans are poor and it affects all the ethnic groups that live in America.

The statistics presents the highest level of poverty that has ever been recorded since 1993. In other words, poverty is a serious issue in the USA that needs to be addressed in order to come up with a lasting solution. In this case, the policy makers have a significant role in coming up with a lasting solution to the prevailing problem.

These statistics clearly reveal that the level of poverty has been increasing in the USA over the recent past. This implies that the level of poverty will reach devastating levels in the future if appropriate policies are not implemented. The fact that the level of poverty has been increasing for the last few years raise a critical issue about the policies that has been implemented in addressing the issue of poverty in the United States.

The rising trend of the level of poverty implies that there is a need for an urgent action in order to change this trend. This calls for the implementation of effective policies in order to overcome this problem. It is necessary to address and investigate the existing strategies in order to come up with the most effective measures to solve the problem.

In order to meet the American Dream, the issue of poverty needs to be addressed in the US in order to pave the way for the realization of these goals. Poverty is the major obstacle that can hinder any country from meeting its development goals. Therefore, there is a need to address the issue of poverty appropriately in order to promote the achievement of development goals.

Social inclusion goals and objectives postulate that the well-being of humankind is the essence of stability, peace, and societal development. Therefore, addressing poverty is one way of achieving social inclusion goals.

At the same time, there is need for an effective public policy that comprehensively addresses the issues of poverty in the country. This study proposes some of the strategies that can be applied in eradicating poverty in the USA.

One of the main characteristic of poverty is poor health. People living in poverty are not able to access quality food while others even starve to death. A large number of people across the world have died from hunger with the most affected being women and children. Poverty also contributes to high level of child mortality.

The increase in the costs of living makes more people incapable of accessing their basic needs. Basically, the poor spends a larger proportion of their budget on food (Veritta, 2008). This implies that the poor are the ones who are more affected by increase in food prices than the rich are.

Another characteristic of poverty is educational underachievement. The system that is being applied in the US tends to favor those children from the more advantaged backgrounds. Therefore, the children from poor family backgrounds have a difficulty in attaining good grades.

The rates of child delinquency are also very high among the children from the poor family. Another indication of poverty is housing. The poor members of the society are unable to access good housing. Poverty increases the chances of being homeless (Veritta, 2008).

The discussion above implies that the best policy to eliminate poverty in USA is by addressing these issues. Addressing such issues will help in suppressing the level of poverty in the society. Therefore, the best policy must be able to address the largest fraction of these problems.

Policy Recommendations

From the above discussion, it is clear that the issue of poverty in USA has reached levels where there is a need to take serious actions in order to address the issue. The approach used to eliminate the issue of poverty in USA has assumed and utilized unilateral public policy models that in turn have led to inadequacy in tackling the issue of poverty.

For instance, many of the convectional poverty policies address education, employment, social security, health, economic growth, and tax (Haughton and Khandker, 2009).

The implementation of these strategies has been detached, the fact that has led to the construction, formulation, and implementation of skewed and weak poverty reduction models. This implies that there is a need for a more broad approach in addressing the issues of poverty.

One of the most effective approaches in elimination of poverty in the society is by involving the people affected by poverty in making policies (Corak, 2005). Community involvement plays a pivotal role in coming up with the most effective measures of eliminating poverty in the society. The people affected can be able to identify the most urgent issues of poverty that needs to be addressed.

They are also able to easily recognize the issues like the projects that can help in lifting the living standards of the local community. The views from the community members on social and physical infrastructure are therefore important in addressing the issue of poverty in the society.

The local community members must be involved at both the implementation and monitoring levels of various projects. Involving the local communities in the formulation of the necessary policies helps in promoting the accountability of the government officials involved in the implementation process. The local community is also able to prioritize their needs depending on how they are affected.

One of the most distinguishing characteristic of poverty is inequality among the people. The higher is the gap between the poor and the rich, the higher the level of poverty in the society. Poverty eradication policies must therefore be directed towards the realization of equitable distribution of resources.

This can be promoted through redistribution of resources in such a way that the poor can access the resources that can help to lift their living standards. Such disparities have contributed to an increasing rate of crimes in the society. It has also contributed to the rate of substance abuse.

Efforts of poverty elimination have been taking place for a very long period in the past. However, it is ironical that it is persisting in one of the richest countries in the world. Therefore, poverty in USA can be attributed to inequality where the poor does not have enough resources for their use.

Some of the strategies that the government has implemented in an effort to fight poverty is through taxation, foot stamps, and other kinds of welfare (Veritta, 2008). For instance, the government has been applying progressive taxation system in order to improve the living standards of the poor individuals in the society.

Progressive taxation is a kind of tax where the rich are taxed at higher rate than the poor. This helps in reducing the gap between the rich and the poor in the society. The tax collected from the rich could for instance be provided in providing other needs. Tax breaks or tax relief can also help in reducing the disparities between the rich and the poor in the society. The tax burden can then be transferred to the richest fraction of the society.

This can significantly help in reducing the level of poverty in USA. The Earned Income Tax Credit has however helped in assisting the people who earn low and moderate levels of income. Such efforts have helped the poor in lifting their living standards. This policy cannot be helpful in eliminating poverty from the whole population in the country.

For instance, it may not significantly benefit those people who do not have access to regular source of income. It only benefits those people who are earning. In this case, the most vulnerable part of population like the immigrants will not be able to benefit from such arrangements. It is therefore advisable to supplement such policies in order to cover the whole population.

As already noted, poverty in USA has left many people living below the minimum standards of living. However, the country has adequate resources to provide at least minimum living standard for every citizen. It can therefore be advisable for the government to come up with programs that guarantees minimum standards of living for every person. These efforts will consequently lead to reduction of poverty in the society.

In order for the society to enable every member of the society to access the basic goods, it is necessary to provide income grants especially to the poor fraction of the society. Providing minimum income ensures that every person in the society has access to all the basic needs. Although the government has put some efforts to ensure that every individual has access to their basic needs there is still a gap that needs to be filled.

Such programs have worked very well in other countries where they have been applied. For instance, this program has helped many people in Namibia to access education, reduce malnutrition, and increase economic activities at a very high rate. In USA, a similar program that has been applied is the minimum wages.

However, this has not been effective in eliminating poverty among the people. For instance, minimum wage is associated with high marginal tax that undermines its effectiveness. The aids groups have also been using such methods like giving cash to the poor or cash vouchers so that they can be able to purchase food.

This is however ineffective because it leads to wastage of money through transportation. It would be more effective to buy food from the donor countries instead of giving people the cash.

Health complications are one of the factors that adversely affect people’s level of productivity. Health individuals are more productive than unhealthy individuals are. Therefore, it is advisable for the government to ensure that people have access to health care. This will also help in eliminating poverty in the society. A healthy person will be able to provide for their basic needs.

Another important strategy in eliminating poverty in USA is by promoting quality education to everyone in the society. As already noted, the prevailing system tends to favor the children from the rich backgrounds. It therefore becomes more difficult for the children from the poor families to get good grades. This has contributed in perpetuating the poverty cycle.

The children from the poor families also have high chances of dropping out of school. Chances of juveniles’ delinquency are also prevalent among the children from poor families. This arises from overdependence on their parents who basically have too low levels of income to satisfy their children’s needs.

All these problems threaten the education of a child from the poor families. The policies also need to address such issues. That is, ensuring that the children from the poor families receive enough coverage for their tuition and other expenses in order to facilitate their learning process.

In the United States, both the government and non-governmental organizations has been actively involved in poverty elimination. There have been various campaigns targeting the most vulnerable and affected groups. These include the children, immigrants, and the homeless people.

Most of these groups have been targeting mainly education and advocacy. However, in order to have effective poverty elimination measures, it is advisable to implement the policies that can help in reducing both income and asset poverty.

One of the major obstacles that undermine the efforts to reduce the level of poverty in the society is over population. This is because even if the government allocates average income benefits per family, it will not be helpful in some families because they have big number of members.

Generally, overpopulation leads to a drastic increase in the level of population at a higher rate than the food production and other resources (Haughton and Khandker, 2009). Recently, the level of population has been increasing significantly exceeding the food production. This implies that the level of poverty will be increasing as the number of births increase.

Therefore, advocating for birth control is important in eliminating poverty among the people. It is necessary to educate the society on the need for family planning. Otherwise, other measures to eliminate poverty in the society will not be effective.

Economic freedom is also necessary in eliminating poverty in the society. In most parts of USA, it is expensive and time consuming to open a business. The registration process includes many procedures, which make the whole process cumbersome and expensive. In order to eliminate poverty in the country, it will be necessary to promote entrepreneurship.

These barriers trend to obstruct larger farms and obstructing small firms. This is despite the fact that small firms are the ones that creates the largest number of employment. The government therefore needs to remove such barriers in order to boost small firms. This will help in reducing the level of unemployment and hence reducing the level of poverty in the society.

In conclusion, this discussion has clearly revealed that poverty is a major issue that continues to affect a large part of population in the USA. Despite of the efforts that the government has put in place in the fight against poverty over the past, the level of poverty remains high in the country. Poverty remains a social issue that requires clear strategies to address it.

Efforts in the past have bore fruits, but given recent trends of increasing cases of poverty in the society, there is an urgent need to address poverty comprehensively. It is from this fact that it is recommended that addressing poverty in modern America require an action plan originating from an inclusive and integrated social equity policy strategy.

Since USA has adequate resources, the best option to eliminate poverty is by ensuring that every citizen get the minimum level of living standards. It is from here that other strategies will become more effective. It is also necessary to implement those efforts that can help in improving the level of income of the poor fraction of the society.

This can be done through progressive taxation system where the rich are charged more than the poor. This will help in reallocating resources from those who have to those who do not have. This will reduce disparities among the members of the society.

It is also advisable to come up with strategies that promote quality education for the children from poor backgrounds. Currently, the education system is biased towards the children from the rich backgrounds. Therefore, it becomes very difficult for the poor families to break their poverty cycle.

Reference List

Corak, M. (2005). Equality of Opportunity and Inequality across the Generations: Challenges Ahead. Policy Options, 26(3), 78–83.

Dye, T.R. (2010). Understanding Public Policy (13th ed.). Longman: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Garcia, G. (2011). Mexican American and Immigrant Poverty in the United States. NY: Springer.

Haughton, J.H. and Khandker, S.R. (2009). Handbook on Poverty and Inequality. Danvers, MA: World Bank Publications.

USA Census Bureau. (2011). Poverty Highlights. Web.

Veritta, L.B. (2008). Poverty Alleviation: 21st Century Issues and Challenges. New York: Nova Publishers.

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Hulkl1ng studied at Emory University, USA, with average GPA 3.01 out of 4.0.

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1. Hulkl1ng. "Poverty Prevalence in the United States." IvyPanda (blog), December 17, 2019.


Hulkl1ng. "Poverty Prevalence in the United States." IvyPanda (blog), December 17, 2019.


Hulkl1ng. 2019. "Poverty Prevalence in the United States." IvyPanda (blog), December 17, 2019.


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