World Poverty

Read Complete Research Material


World Poverty

World Poverty


In the United States, the Census Bureau determines the poverty status of families based on poverty thresholds or income levels dependent on the number of family members. The poverty thresholds are adjusted each year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The primary basis for poverty threshold determination goes back to 1955 when a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey indicated that approximately one-third of a family's income was spent on the purchase of food. The Social Security Administration then used the least expensive food plan identified by the USDA, the Economy Food Plan, and multiplied this number by three to come up with total family income.(Chapman, 2008)

The Modern World

The lack of employment and the growing numbers of poor were causes of great concern among the upper and middle classes because of the experiences of the recent past, the late 13th and early 14th centuries, when the poor turned to social upheaval and revolution to improve their position. In 1526 Juan Luis Vives (1492-1540), a Spanish philosopher and humanist who spent his adult life in France, England, and the Low Countries and was horrified by the physical condition of the abjectly poor and the inability of voluntary charities to aid them, worked out a theoretical justification for state-run poor relief and developed a plan to organize and regulate charitable relief, which included registering the poor, raising private funds to help them, and creating employment for the able-bodied poor.

For instance in 1529, the city-state of Venice enacted a poor law requiring people seeking alms to obtain a license and to do some public-service work in order to get the license. England followed suit in 1531 with its first statute on poor relief, which required justices of the peace to interview and license certain people (the old and disabled) to beg in their own neighborhoods and to punish harshly any unlicensed beggars.

In France the city of Lyon established the Aumône-Générale (general fund) in 1534 after a bloody uprising of the poor in 1529 sacked the city, to discriminate among the poor and to help those who had been evaluated as worthy of aid. The basic idea behind this municipal poor relief system was to establish a comprehensive system of local relief for the worthy poor and then ban begging for those deemed unworthy.(Arturo, 2005) Any unauthorized beggars could then be considered criminals and driven out of town, jailed, or forced to labor on civic projects.

The operative assumption was that work was available for all who wanted it (that is, there was no surplus of labor power), and no study of the actual conditions of the poor was undertaken by any of these agencies. Such studies would wait until the 19th century. In many of the nations that did not turn to Protestantism during the Reformation, the church rather than the state retained more responsibility for the care of poor people.

For instance, in 1625 Vincent de Paul established seminaries, religious orders, and charitable organizations to care for ...
Related Ads