Among the top five social problems in society today, is poverty.  According to the 2017 estimates of the US Census Bureau, the current poverty rates in America today was 12.3 percent.  That interprets to 39.7 million Americans living in poverty. On the hand, the supplemental poverty measure indicates that the percentage of poverty in the US was 13.9 in the same year. The poverty rates, along with incomes fluctuate from one year to another. The Census Bureau indicates that 18.5 million people, which represents 5 percent of all Americans, live in deep poverty. The data is based on the population survey of the annual social and economic supplement. The study captures the U.S. households, and thus, the estimates do not include homeless families.   Despite statistics indicating a remarkable change in the rate of unemployment over the last half a decade, poverty remains a significant problem in American society.

The significant causes of poverty in the U.S. include labor market issues. Majority of low-income families contain workers. Poverty is positively correlated to job availabilities and the wages paid to the jobs (Homan et al., 2017).  Unemployment is a significant contributor to poverty in America, and it is relatively higher among low-skilled workers. The level of education of individuals also influences poverty rates in America. The prices of poverty seem to decrease with an increase in the level of education. For instance, individuals with advanced degrees seem to be less miserable compared to those with a bachelor’s degree, then high school diplomas, and finally people with no qualifications are the poorest (McLaughlin & Rank, 2018). Other causes of poverty include increased cost of living, globalization, which facilitates the manufacturing of products in different countries hence reduced jobs, and rising in cost of medical care.

Poverty does not affect specific populations since it depends on a variety of factors.  Demographic characteristics, such as age and family structure, influence poverty. Age also impacts on poverty as older people are more miserable than youths (Wolf, 2016). Besides, poverty rates are relatively higher among families with female householders and husband absent as compared to married couples. In the year 2010, African American were the poorest followed by Hispanics then Asians, and the white Americans were the richest in the country (Gardner et al., 2010). It is, however, notable that some populations may be more advantaged than others.

Different theories are used to explain the causes of poverty. These theories are based on individual deficiencies, political-economic factors, cultural beliefs, cumulative and circumstantial origins, and geographical distributions (Stark, 2009). Policy analysts and scholars employ several approaches in an attempt to reduce the increasing rates of poverty in society. Some of the criteria entail pushing individuals to work through self-help strategies, removing barriers such as discriminations at work, and promotion of local industries (Galperin & Fernanda, 2017). Other approaches also include replacing cultures that undermine productive work with more functional culture, discouraging young people from a recreation of detrimental culture, and working within the poverty culture to formulate strategies that might promote the well-being of the culture (Block, 2018). Moreover, in cases where the system is the cause of poverty, people organize themselves and eliminate the system (Stark, 2009). However, the approach is more theoretical than practical.

Poverty remains a critical problem in the United States despite numerous efforts by the states and federal governments and different organizations to eliminate it.  Statistics indicate that a significant portion of American still leaves under poor conditions. Poverty is caused by several reasons, including low-income levels and low skills. However, it is overall and does not affect a specific population even though some communities seem advantaged. Although, it has not been completely eradicated, the country has made a significant step in reducing poverty for the last five decades.


Block, E. P., Zimmerman, F. J., Aguilar, E., Stanley, L., & Halfon, N. (2018). Early Child Development, Residential Crowding, and Commute Time in 8 US States, 2010–2017. American Journal of Public Health, 108(11), 1550–1557.

Galperin, H., & Fernanda Viecens, M. (2017). Connected for Development? Theory and evidence about the impact of Internet technologies on poverty alleviation. Development Policy Review, 35(3), 315–336.

Gardner, D. S., Tuchman, E., & Hawkins, R. (2010). Teaching Note: A Cross-Curricular, Problem-Based Project to Promote Understanding of Poverty in Urban Communities. Journal of Social Work Education, 46(1), 147–136.

Homan, P., Valentino, L., & Weed, E. (2017). Being and Becoming Poor: How Cultural Schemas Shape Beliefs About Poverty. Social Forces, 95(3), 1023–1048.

McLaughlin, M., & Rank, M. R. (2018). Estimating the Economic Cost of Childhood Poverty in the United States. Social Work Research, 42(2), 73–83.

Stark, B. (2009). Theories of Poverty/The Poverty of Theory. Brigham Young University Law Review, 2009(2), 381–430.

Wolf, K. (2016). Toxic Schools: High-Poverty Education in New York and Amsterdam. Journal of Urban Affairs, 38(2), 313–315

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