Sunday, December 13, 2015

What are the Causes, repercussion, remedies and sociological perspectives of poverty in the society?

Course: Social Problems of Pakistan (SOC-415)
Course Instructor: Saeed Mashaal Bhatti

Poverty is a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials to enjoy a minimum standard of life and well-being that considered acceptable in society. Couch-homeless refers to the individuals who do not have a home of their own and who stay at the home of family or friends. Intergenerational poverty refers to the poverty that is transmitted from one generation to the next. Millennium Development Goals refers to the eight goals that comprise an international agenda for reducing poverty and improving lives. Human capital refers to the skills, knowledge, and capabilities of the individual

1.      According to the structural-functionalist perspective, poverty results from institutional breakdown: economic institutions that fail to provide sufficient jobs and pay, educational institutions that fail to provide adequate education in low-income school districts, family institutions that do not provide two parents, and government institutions that do not provide sufficient public support. According to Lewis, the culture of poverty refers to the set of norms, values, and beliefs and self-concepts that contribute to the persistence of poverty among the underclass.
2.      Karl Marx (1818–1883) proposed that economic inequality results from the domination of the bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production) over the proletariat (workers). The bourgeoisie accumulate wealth as they profit from the labor of the proletariat, who earn wages far below the earnings of the bourgeoisie. Modern conflict theorists recognize that the power to influence economic outcomes comes not only from ownership of the means of production but also from management position, interlocking board memberships, control of media, and financial contributions to politicians.
3.      Symbolic interactionism focuses on how meanings, labels, and definitions affect and are affected by social life. This view calls attention to ways in which wealth and poverty are defined and the consequences of being labeled “poor.” Individuals who are viewed as poor—especially those receiving public assistance (i.e., welfare)—are often stigmatized as lazy, irresponsible, and lacking in abilities, motivation, and moral values. Wealthy individuals, on the other hand, tend to be viewed as capable, motivated, hardworking, and deserving of their wealth.

Classification of poverty:
1.      Age and Poverty. Children are more likely than adults to live in poverty
2.      Sex and Poverty. Women are more likely than men to live below the poverty line—a phenomenon referred to as the feminization of poverty.
3.      Education and Poverty. Education is one of the best insurance policies for protecting an individual against living in poverty. In general, the higher a person’s level of educational attainment, the less likely that person is to be poor.
4.      Family Structure and Poverty. Poverty is much more prevalent among female headed single-parent households than among other types of family structures.

Social workers and others involved in supporting persons and families in poverty find classification according to income level inadequate. Income poverty is only one dimension of the problem and may be a consequence as often as a cause of the underlying problem, which may be unemployment, physical or mental impairment and handicap, environmental conditions such as severe prolonged drought, or disruption of or dispossession from customary habitat, e.g., by violent conflict. Behavioral scientists further distinguish features that include social and cultural poverty, i.e., lack of connectedness to society and community, and moral poverty, i.e., absence of moral values, such as attachment to family and others. Disparity across income groups, as measured by the Gini coefficient, is used with the classification system.

How poverty is a social problem?
Poverty refers to the condition of not having the means to afford basic human needs
such as clean water, nutrition, health care, clothing and shelter. Poverty is the condition
of having fewer resources or less income than others within a society or country, or
compared to worldwide averages. Poverty is one of the major social problems which
Pakistan is facing. It is one of the most important and sensitive issue not only for Pakistan
but for the whole world. Poverty can cause other social problems like theft, bribe,
corruption, adultery, lawlessness, injustice etc. Poverty is Pakistan’s biggest problem which today’s Pakistan facing, it is interconnected with several elements which are having direct or indirect relationship with poverty. Pakistan is world’s 6th largest country in terms of population and its population is mostly rural. The rural population of Pakistan is totally depending on agriculture. As in most cases where the canal system is lacking or on arid lands, the production of food is limited as agriculture is said to be subsistence and meager to provide extra costs associated to quality of life. The quality of life is the measure of development, the more the
development, the better the quality of life. A better life means, better education, health
and sanitation facilities and better future associated for young population.
Discussing some relevant global or national data in pretext to that social problem?
In 21st century Pakistan faces serious issue which lead in increasing of Poverty level, issue of 9/11, then Earth quake in 2005 effect millions of people, two continuous floods in the year of 2010 and 2011contribute a lot in increasing poverty in Pakistan. SDPI’s study on poverty in Pakistan revealed that every third Pakistani is living his life below the poverty line. Baluchistan which is considered as the land of mineral is facing a serious issue of poverty, 52 % of total population in Baluchistan living below the poverty line, 33 % of Sindh population are living below the poverty line followed by KPK having 32 % ratio. Punjab is considered as the urban area also having 19% population which is living below the poverty line. There are several basic causes of extreme poverty. These include:
1.      Adverse geographical condition: Physical isolation of the region (landlocked, small island, mountainous) and sparseness of the population  Poor climate (hyper arid, flood prone)
·  Poor agriculture (poor soils, land degradation, adverse climate) or poor
· fisheries  Lack of energy resources (no fossil fuels, no hydro power)
·  Disease ecology (hyper-endemic vector-borne diseases such as malaria)
·  Major vulnerability to hazards such as floods, droughts, typhoons,
· earthquakes and other hazards The Horn of Africa and the Sahel are examples of regions with highly adverse geographical conditions: landlocked, generally devoid of fossil fuels, hyper-arid and drought prone, and endemic to tropical diseases, including malaria and meningitis. Many small-island states are geographically isolated. Within large middle-income countries extreme poverty is often highest in remote interior provinces (e.g. the West of China and the North-East of India).
2.      Prolonged violent conflict and international sanctions: The incidence of extreme poverty is highly correlated with violent conflict and instability. Afghanistan has been reduced to misery through thirty years of nearly continuous conflict. Likewise, Haiti’s economy was ravaged by repeated episodes of international sanctions.
3.      Despotic government and poor governance Poor governance, including high levels of corruption and the systematic misallocation of a country’s resources away from the needs of the poor, are an important determinant of extreme poverty. North Korea is the quintessential case of despotic rule leading to extreme poverty despite otherwise favorable economic potential. The failure by some of the resource-rich countries in Africa to use their relative wealth to overcome the disadvantages of unfavorable geography is another potent example of poor governance.
4.      Gender and ethnic or social discrimination: Indigenous peoples (roughly 400 million around the world) and other excluded groups have faced centuries of extreme discrimination and social exclusion. As a result they tend to live in the most remote parts of countries (c.f. adverse geography above) and constitute a particularly high share of the extreme poor, particularly in Asia. Girls and women continue to face extreme discrimination in social practices and legal rights (e.g. the right to land title) in many parts of the world, which increases the risk of extreme poverty for households.
5.      Extreme total fertility rates: (6 or higher) Rural areas in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia, and Central Asia have total fertility rates of 6 or higher. These higher TFRs result from culture (religious tenets, gender discrimination), the lack of girls’ schooling, high child mortality (leading to high fertility choices of households), and the unavailability of contraceptives and family planning services. High TFRs are one of the most important determinants of extreme poverty since they reduce a household’s per capita investment in the health and education of its children as well as a government’s per capita investments in infrastructure and social services that can reduce poverty. (6) Lack of access to land. While most of the rural poor in Africa own (too little) land, many extreme poor in South Asia have constituted an important driver of extreme poverty.

1.      Poor Governance: Good governance is an essential pre-condition for pro-poor growth as it establishes the enabling regulatory and legal framework essential for the sound functioning of land, labor, capital and other factors of market. Poor governance has not only enhanced vulnerability, but is the prime cause of low business confidence, which in turn translates into lower investment levels and growth. The effects of poor governance serve to reinforce the adverse impact of structural factors. The existence of pervasive poverty, wherein a significant proportion of the population remains poor over an extended period of time is strongly linked with the ability of the government to ensure good governance. Beset with the threat of terrorism which is eroding the very foundations of the state, Government’s focus on the subject is blurred and the effort half-hearted.
2.      Political Instability: Political stability is fundamental to the creation of an enabling environment for growth and development. Economic agents, particularly investors, must be reassured with regard to the continuation of policies, should have confidence in the government’s credibility in order to operate effectively, and in the case of investors, be induced to take risks. The perceived security threat on its eastern border that has dominated Pakistan’s political culture has resulted in the domination of the military in politics, excessive public spending on defense at the expense of social sectors, and erosion of the rule of law. Politically, Pakistan has alternated with regularity between democratic and military governments. All these factors have in turn affected growth, and subsequently poverty levels in the country. In general, political instability and macroeconomic imbalances have been reflected in poor creditworthiness ratings, even compared to other countries of similar income levels, with resulting capital flight and lower foreign direct investment inflows.
3.      Trade Deficit Dilemma & Melting down of Economy: Economic factors have also contributed in making life difficult for all sections of society except the very rich. Decline in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate is the immediate cause of the increase in poverty. According to the latest data released by the State Bank, GDP is unlikely to grow by more than 2 per cent this year. The rupee has slumped by more than 30 percent against the US dollar since the beginning of 2009 and share prices have crashed by 40 percent since their all-time high in April. Most of the inflows other than workers remittances were nearly dried up. By the end of October 2008 wrecked by political instability and hard hit by ever deepening global financial crisis Pakistan was at the verge of bankruptcy. The country’s foreign reserves had fled out of the country and around $4.5 billion were left behind to pay for only six weeks of imports. After failing from obtaining funds/ any kind of financial support from China, Saudi Arabia and other Friends of Pakistan, we were constrained to bow before IMF for assistance. The strings attached with these bitter pills such as; an end to price subsidies, tighter monetary policy and other austerity measures would lead to further price hike and squeeze the already meager share of public spending. War on terror and Pakistan Army’s stepped up operation on the ever widening front has cost Pakistan over 21 trillion Rupees with loss of 260 billion in 2005, 301 billion in 2006, 484 billion in 2007, and 678 billion in 2008.18 Last quarter of 2008 Pakistan was virtually facing a worst socio-economic crisis that include food and energy shortages, escalating fuel costs, a sinking currency and a massive flight of foreign capital accelerated by an escalating insurgency. No money, no energy, no food, no water, no government. The dooming economy was further axed by the Benazir Income Support Program to the amount nearly 50 billion rupees. Though Pakistan succeeded in avoiding default, however 2009 confronts a looming economic and political crisis.
4.      Lack of Education & Rampant Illiteracy: The country’s education indicators portray a dismal picture when compared with other countries at the similar level of GDP per capita. More specifically, the public expenditure on education as percent of GNP have been around 2% in Pakistan compared to other (low income) countries of the region. Since, foundation of any development in socio-economic sector is corollary to the level of education / skills of its human capital therefore, general perception that one of the main causes of the poverty in Pakistan is pitiable state of education across the country. More than half of the population cannot read and write and substantial number of people do not have any concept about the modern earning techniques. Resultantly, decrease in revenue leads the society to poor financial conditions and leaving no room for allocating adequate fund for education sector. The persistent refrain has been that Pakistan devotes less than two per cent of its annual GDP to education while most other countries, even in South Asia, allocate at least three to seven per cent. The already meager amount of the fund is further subjected to misuse, coupled with mismanagement and malpractices. Indeed, the quality of education can be improved with in the allocations up to large extent provided proper use is made of allocated funds. Furthermore, blaming lack of education as main reason of poverty seems exaggeration. Because, over the past fifteen years, the proportion of the population living under extreme poverty in Pakistan has risen from 13 to 33 percent but illiteracy has declined during this period. Therefore, the explanation for the increase in poverty in Pakistan cannot be wholly attributed to illiteracy.
5.      Landlessness in Rural area: Being from an agricultural country, most of the people of Pakistan have farming as their primary source of living. This source is shrinking with the division of lands amongst the family members and depriving honorable way of living to the families- once well of. Only 37% of rural households own land and around 35 million people in rural areas are poor- representing about 80% of Pakistan’s poor.19 Hence, rural poverty is found to be strongly correlated with lack of asset in rural areas. The highly unequal land distribution seems to have resulted in tenancy arrangements resulting in high prevalence of absolute poverty particularly in Sindh. Though alleviating poverty in rural areas has always been a focal priority agenda of economic reforms of almost all of the Pakistani governments since the 1990 but the rural poverty continued rising without any worthwhile respite. The causes of rural poverty are complex and multidimensional. Further, persistent load shedding of electricity and water, and highly escalated fuel prices has negatively affected agriculture yield. Being an agriculture country, our economy has to be agriculture centered. Therefore, main stay of our exports has been on rice, cotton etc or other value added product to decrease its foreign trade deficit. But during the last many years Pakistan’s performance in agriculture sector remained dwindled without any consistency and the worst year was 2008.20 The shortfall in cotton crop compelled textile industry to spend 1.291 billion US$ to import 4.6 billion bales to meet its requirement.21 The most alarming aspect is the declining trend in agriculture growth that ranged from 1.5% to 6.5% during the last six years thereby threatening our food security.22 Instead of giving boost to export and add to our current account Pakistan’s total imports for food group are reported at $4.21 billion in 2008 against 2007 imports of $2.74 billion.
6.      Non-Transparency in Resource Allocation: The lack of transparency in public sector planning, budgeting and allocation of resources in Pakistan has been the hallmark of our financial resource planners and policy makers. Political or the ruling leadership has never responded to the real needs of the populace and accountable to the promises they made with the public. Resultantly, without having regards of the real stakeholders or the potential beneficiaries, the priorities for the development were determined by the bureaucracy following the supply driven approach –having no concern for the demand / needs of the citizens.
7.      Corruption & Corrupt Practices: Corruption is one of the most dangerous factor that eroded Pakistan’s economic and governance system since its inception. The corruption and corrupt practices are not restricted to public servant only rather, social dishonesty and irresponsible behavior of people as well. Everyone tries to become rich in nighttime by using unfair means. A shopkeeper is ready to get whole money from the pocket of customer. People doing jobs are not performing their duties well. People, who do not pay taxes or continuously violate the laws, are considered brave and respectful. Transparency International in its first ranking of corrupt states, in 19945, placed Pakistan amongst the five most corrupt states (with 2025 score) out of the 41 states graded for the purpose. And in 2008, Pakistan is ranked as the 46th most corrupt country out of the 180 countries of the world and its Corruption Perceptions Index Score (CPI) is 2.5. The persistently rampant corruption in Pakistan not only jeopardizes its resolve to fight against poverty rather adding to the menace of poverty from all direction. Corruption is perceived to be pervasive - creating a culture of lawlessness and lack of credibility and trust in authorities. Public institutions are often politicized and peace, social justice, merit and public trust and credibility are the victim of this game. In this whole scenario some corrupt people has been occupying the resources and common man is living in miserable conditions. Rising inflation forcing people to sell family members, turn to crime. The selling of kidneys was very common in Pakistan. Burt in recent years there has been a sudden increase in suicide attempts.

1.      Malnutrition: This is especially seen in children of poor families. People living in poverty rarely have access to highly nutritious foods. Even if they have access to these foods, it is unlikely that they are able to purchase them. The healthiest foods are usually the most expensive therefore; a family on a very small budget is much more likely to purchase food that is less nutritious, simply because that is all they can afford. Sometimes people in poverty are malnourished simply because they do not eat enough of anything.
2.      Health: One of the most severe effects of poverty is the health effects that are almost always present. This includes things from diseases to life expectancy to medicine. Diseases are very common in people living in poverty because they lack the resources to maintain a healthy living environment. They are almost always lacking in nutritious foods, which decreases their bodies’ ability to fight off diseases. Sanitation conditions are usually very low, increasing the chance of contracting a disease. Sometimes these diseases can be minor, but other times they can be life-threatening. In general, people living in poverty cannot afford appropriate medicines to treat these illnesses. Life expectancy and child mortality are greatly affected by poverty.

3.      Education: Many people living in poverty are unable to attend school from a very early age. Families may not be able to afford the necessary clothing or school supplies. Others may not have a way for their children to get to school. Whatever the reason, there is a clear correlation between families living in poverty and their lack of education. Without the ability to attend school, many people go through life illiterate. The literacy rates in countries with high poverty levels indicate that these two are linked. Low literacy rates can affect society in various ways including the labor force and politics.

4.      Economy: Mainly, the number of people living in poverty influences employment rates heavily. Without an education, people are unlikely to find a paying job. Unemployment hinders a country from developing into a strong economic system. A high unemployment rate can impede a country from progressing in all aspects. The labor force suffers when a large part of the citizens cannot contribute to economic development.
5.      Society: Many people living in poverty are homeless, which puts them on the streets. There also seems to be a connection between poverty and crime. When people are unemployed and homeless, social unrest may take over and lead to increases in crime. When people have nothing and no money to buy necessities, they may be forced to turn to theft in order to survive. Homelessness and high crime rates impact of a country’s people and can create many problems within a society. It is clear that poverty has far-reaching effects on all people. By improving global poverty, economies could prosper, health could improve and countries can develop into strong global presences.
Remedies to poverty:
Practical Action is one of the world's leading authorities on energy for development. We have been working with the world's poorest communities for more than four decades. We believe energy can - and does - act as a catalyst for change. If people have access to appropriate energy they can escape from poverty forever. Although poverty can never be totally eliminated from this sinful world, it can be alleviated. Scripture provides guidance concerning how this may be done.

Approaches for achieving poverty reduction
  • 1.      Promoting economic growth,
  • 2.      Investing in “human capital,”
  • 3.      Providing financial aid and debt cancellation to nations,
  • 4.      Providing microcredit programs that provide loans to poor people.

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