The Cycle of Poverty

The Cycle of Poverty

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America is one of the wealthiest nations on earth with having a high inequality than other industrialized country. Inequality exists in income, wealth, power and education. Persons who are legally and socially poor in the United states tend to stay in a cycle through life, not always by choice but because they are given fewer opportunities, education and tools to achieve success. Poverty class has a much larger income gap than the upper class, the American Dream is lessens through opportunity and is shown through statistics.

Inequality exist and is high in America because the amount of income and wealth that is distributed through power. In America the income distribution is very inequality and the value of a person wealth is based on their income with their debts subtracted. “As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers)” (Domhoff, 2011). In contrary the poor do not get ahead and the rich get more. Americans are judged and placed in class categories through their home ownership which translates to wealth. Americans social class is often associated with their assets and wealth. “People seek to own property, to have high incomes, to have interesting and safe jobs, to enjoy the finest in travel and leisure, and to live long and healthy lives” (Domhoff, 2011). Power indicates how these “values” are not distributed equally in American society. Huge gains for the rich include cuts in capital gains and dividends and when tax rates decrease for the tiny percent of Americans income is redistributed. Taxes directly affect the wealth and income of Americans every year.

“For most Americans, the word ‘poverty’ suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter” (Rector, 2007). Poverty can be socially defined through severe deprivation of education, food, safe water, sanitation, and health care regardless of one’s income. The U.S. Department of Health and human Services periodically updates poverty guidelines and depending on what state you live in the guidelines range.

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The Cycle of Poverty Essay

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In 2009 the poverty threshold “for a family of five is $25,790” (Services, 2009). The federal poverty levels are measured through the poverty guidelines and to determine financial eligibility is done through poverty thresholds.
Poverty rate has many variations between ethnic and racial subgroups. “In 2009, 25.8% blacks and 25.3% of Hispanics were poor, compared to 9.4% of non-Hispanic whites and 12.5% of Asians” (Michigan, 2006). Black or Hispanic families headed by single women are statistically higher in poverty than of families head by single men or married couples. Children are at higher risk of poverty verse elderly or middle-aged persons. Poverty is around us regardless if it is a big city, small town and affects all groups differently and poverty is often concentrated. The communities that are suffering from poverty are low-quality communities, schools, with little jobs available. Social network is at risk in communities that breeds drug and alcohol, abuse and violence.
The social class of the poor is not achieved it is ascribed. People do not achieve to be poor, get a less of an education, and struggle to get food, clothes and shelter. Social classes work hard to achieve higher opportunities and advancements. Social mobility and growth within demographics can be altered through negative stereotypes. It is imperative that persons who are in poverty find self determination, educational opportunities and find a way in society through upward mobility.
There are levels of social mobility for the poor based on the degree to which one’s earnings, housing status, education, and benefits change. People may feel as if they are poor but earn a living higher than the poverty threshold. Education plays a role in the continuation of the poverty cycle because the opportunity for education is less for the poor verse other classes. The opportunity for education through scholarships can help in the poverty cycle by giving opportunity to achieve an education. Higher education enables a person to have better qualifications to get a better paying job and helps the poor move out of poverty and into higher social roles. When opportunities are inadequately provided to the poor it is at a macro level. A micro level is through various cultures of poverty and values that poor people set and hold.
The American dream is sought through the success, wealth, fame, and power. Anyone can achieve their American dream. All levels of success vary depending on what one would like to achieve. It is hard to justify the American dream when so many people are poor because different people are “consumed by desires for status, material goods, and acceptance, Americans apparently had lost the sense of individuality, thrift, hard work, and craftsmanship that had characterized the nation” (Warshauer, 2003).
“Anthropologist Oscar Lewis argued that poor people hold a set of values-the culture of poverty- that emphasizes living for the moment rather than thrift, investment in the future, or hard work” (Brinkerhoff, Ortega, Weitz, & White, 2011). Due to the fact that most generations follow the class that they are born into, does not mean their “family values” are lessened of other classes. The culture of poverty holds true if people who are raised on welfare believe that it is best to remain on welfare verse seeking employment to better them and make a living to support their families.
Labor markets affect poverty levels because as there are fewer opportunities available for people to achieve jobs when the market is down, the number of Americans that are falling into poverty increase. If the labor market is good, then if you are a motivated individual in poverty you can achieve your American dream through hard work and determination and climb out of the poverty cycle and out of the poor class. “Macroeconomic indicators include economy-wide phenomena such as unemployment rates, national income, rates of growth, gross domestic product, inflation, and price levels” (Page & Stevens, 2005). Without labor market opportunities the number of jobs from low to high skills, and wages may not be available making it more difficult for one to fill their American dream.

Works Cited

Brinkerhoff, D. B., Ortega, S. T., Weitz, R., & White, L. K. (2011). Essentials of Sociology. In D. B. Brinkerhoff, S. T. Ortega, R. Weitz, & L. K. White, Essentials of Sociology (p. 166). Belmont: Wadsworth.

Domhoff, W. G. (2011, January). Power in America. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from
Michigan, T. U. (2006). Poverty in the United States. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from www.npc.umich.ed:

Page, M. E., & Stevens, A. H. (2005, July). Understanding the Relation between Labor Market Opportunities and Poverty Rates in California. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from

Rector, R. (2007, August 27). How Poor Are America's Poor? Examining the "Plague" of Poverty in America. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from

Services, U. D. (2009, January 23). The 2009 HHS Poverty Guidelines. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from www.aspe.hhs.fov:

Warshauer, M. (2003, February 23). Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from

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