The Impacts of Poverty on Individualsand Their Communities Poverty has impacted every nation onthe planet. Wolfensohn (as cited in Wilkin, 2002) stated that “there are sixbillion people on the planet of whom three billion…live on under $2 a day and abillion two hundred million people live on under $1 a day.” Poverty is also affectsthe United States and is continuously rising. “Over 36 million people in theUnited States are living in poverty and 54 million are at severe risk offalling into poverty” (Rynell, 2008).
For the majority of individuals, povertyhas an undesirable influence on the minds and the living environment ofimpoverished people. As a multifaceted system, poverty has an interconnectedrelationship to mental illness, creating a culture of generationalinsufficiency and community degradation. It is worth reflecting on history to gaina greater understanding of how so many people have come to live in poverty.
Past systems such as racism, colonialism and capitalism have contributed muchto the collective body of poverty. Morrow referred to these systems as the”isms,” racism, colonialism, and capitalism (Morrow et al. as seen in Mills2012). Racism adds to poverty through denigrating persons of a certainnationality on a mass scale, colonialism through conquest, land and resourceseizure, and finally capitalism through the commoditization of appropriatedlands and resources. These systems have also had an impact on the mentaltrepidations that impoverished people sustain, hence a lineage of poverty and aninability to escape impoverished situations. “In general, research suggeststhat the longer a person has been poor, the less likely it is that he or shewill escape poverty” (Rynell, 2008).
Generational poverty has a larger effecton the majority of the population, many of whom fail to ever escape the cycleof poverty. Intergenerationalelasticity in earnings is estimated to be around 0.6 – this is the correlationin earnings between parents and their children in adulthood.
This means thatfor a hypothetical family of four whose current income is at the poverty line,it would take the descendants of the family 5 to 6 generations (125 to 150years) before their income will be within 5 percent of the national average.1Estimatesof intergenerational mobility are significantly lower for families with littleor no wealth. African Americans and single mothers and their children are lesslikely to be upwardly mobile than other groups (Rynell, 2008). In factthe ability to support those who are impoverished would lie in a change of theeconomic opportunitiesand the current economic system itself. On the contrary, however, there are thosewho are affected by poverty who do not allow their present state of deficiencyto completely affect every sector of their lives. Many individuals have chosento come to terms with their financial situations. In fact there are those whoallow their impoverishment to push them into a completely higher class alltogether. We see this often time with professional sports players and eventhose who dive into the music industry.
Although this sector of individuals,for the most part, are few in numbers they have been able to defy statistics ofdefeating mental illness and surpassing expectations. This in turn creates anew dynamic for wealth creation and a turning point in community contributionif the individual decides to repair his or her childhood habitat; even from amental standpoint for those still living in poverty gaining from a visualstimuli. At present it can be shown that povertyhas many facets and elements, which make up the whole of its construction. Theability to solve the issue of poverty is inevitable without addressing thecyclical effects which create it.
Poverty is a tangible condition which causesa mental psychosis that breaks down its victims by means of negativeself-realization, feelings of worthlessness and mental illness. In most urban neighborhoods there has been acomplete breakdown of the community habitational situation where one sees,graffiti, drug sales, litter, abandoned homes and disarray. A study completed infive urban communities by the Epidemiologic Catchment Area, found that 20,000individuals were at risk for developing psychiatric disorders throughneighborhood disorganization; which elevated all of its resident’s risk ofdeveloping depression (Anakwenze & Zuberi, 2013). Visual images tend toaffect the moods of poor individuals. Living in an environment that is uncleanand unkempt can also play a vital role of one’s self-image.Furthermore, poverty effects a majority ofindividuals, even if they do not themselves know that they are affected,psychologically invoking feelings like depression and anger. Thoughts ofworthlessness or the need to find self-approval in others, can be caused by alack of sufficient finances to sustain ones living condition. The mental healtheffects of poverty have been studied in academia circles for some time.
Findingsworldwide suggest that for most ‘mental disorders’, ‘the association betweenlow socio-economic status and psychiatric morbidity is strong and significant'(Das et al., 2007, p. 467; Kessler et al., 2005; Patel & Kleinman, 2003).Much research has found that a range of ‘mental disorders’ are associated withpoverty (Weich & Lewis, 1998; Butterworth et al., 2009; Jenkins et al.,2008), with depression 1.5–2 times more prevalent (Patel et al.
, 1999; WHO,2007), and schizophrenia an eight times greater risk, within low-income groupsof a population (Holzer et al., 1986). Furthermore, four out of every tenpeople suffering from ‘mental disorders’ are said to live in low andmiddle-income countries (LMICs) (Funk, Drew, & Knapp, 2012). (As seen inMills 2015).
Asone might conclude there are many damaging effects of poverty. Children may beby far the most affected by poverty. Suffering that originates in hunger andthe lack of social acceptance at a young age could adversely affect a child in theeducation settings.
Grades may suffer and their own self-acceptance could bedamaged causing the child to grown up in a mental state with thoughts ofworthlessness. According to Kim et al. (2015), “Childhood poverty isconsistently linked to a myriad of negative outcomes including biologicalstress dysregulation.” (p. 213).
In conclusion, one can deduce that povertyhas had observable damaging effects on the urban population from the effects ofmental illness to community failure. Often we tend to think of the poor in anegative manner without regard to systems which have created the institution ofpoverty. Living in impoverished environments has been shown to cause manypsychological detriments; which lead to mental illnesses such as depression,anxiety, and even schizophrenia. Poverty continues to thrive as a generationalfactor in families who have suffered from the antiquities of history andcapitalism, further propelling the accounts of poverty throughout America. Theone change that can be made to completely dissolve poverty, would be to fullyeducate the population on how poverty effects the whole of society and call fora change in the current economic system for the benefit of humanity.