Poverty in America

Poverty refers to a situation where people are unable to afford basic commodities that make life comfortable. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the basic human wants are food, shelter, and clothing. Individuals who are unable to afford these basic needs are considered poverty-stricken. Away from the generality to the foregoing, poverty manifests and means different things to various people. Among different societies, the quality of housing, food, or clothing influences whether one can be regarded as either poor or rich. Poverty is prevalent world over, including in the nations considered fully developed. In America, poverty is measured using the inflation index and the consumer price index (Michael, 2013). Despite the perceived opulence of the Americans, some of them, especially those residing in the rural areas are faced with dire problems of deprivation. The United States government gauges poverty levels based on the citizens’ inability to access basic commodities available in the society. Poverty in America is a common scenario, despite the perceived advanced standards of living.

America is regarded as a world superpower due its vast resources, advanced weaponry, and higher GDPs (Gross Domestic Product). To the rest of the world, America is a dream. Each year, the government gives several thousand green cards to foreign nationals who would want to live and work in the United States. From a cursory analysis of the magnificence of the nation’s great cities, one would be led to believe that the country has made huge strides in improving the living standards of her people. It is true that America has offers better living standards to her people; it is not entirely true that all the citizens enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Indeed, there is a great majority of Americans struggling to meet their everyday needs (Prasad, 2012). Mainstream American living is not as rosy as perceived. Dwellers of the outskirts of the city and the countryside are actually average citizens struggling to afford the basic human needs.

America too, is faced with the challenge of inequitable distribution of resources. The bulk of the country’s wealth is concentrated in the major towns where people enjoy luxurious lifestyles. A greater percentage of city dwellers are the well-to-do individuals who either run big businesses or are employed in the public service. The American society has set for itself a definite standard of living based on the prevailing economic conditions. According to the economic situation in the United States, residents have higher disposable incomes. Due to the higher disposable incomes, the prices of goods are relatively higher (Sasha, 2013). The wealthy can comfortably afford the commodities. However, to the average citizen who earns a moderate income, the price of commodities become expensive. In most cases, the consumer prices are determined from an average of the highest and lowest salaries. The gaping difference between the highest and lowest incomes causes a huge disparity in attaining accurate figures. Low-income earners are forced to acquire goods and services at a similar rate with the rich. The lesser rich are strained and depleted of their meager earnings, contributing to the poverty levels.

Poverty incidents in the United States are fuelled by a person’s indisposition. Generally, immigrants are poorer than the original inhabitants are. Upon moving to the country, immigrants are given the lowly jobs, mostly as factory and farm workers. Salaries and wages in these sectors are comparatively lower as compared to the formal sector. Lower incomes cannot enable immigrants to lead a decent lifestyle. As compared to the wealthy in the society, the immigrants are thus poorer by all indications. Immigrants dwell in clustered settlements where they are not able to access essential services (Sasha, 2013). In reviewing the case of immigrants, the poverty levels in America can be analyzed from the point of indisposition. A person will be rich or poor according to their state in society.

Race or ethnicity influences poverty levels in America (Michael, 2013). The whites are the majority while the Africans, Mexicans, and Indians are the minorities. Since the slavery times, the minorities have always been used as laborers in the white farms and factories. Slavery denied the slave workers the right to own property or do business. As a result, they were not able to amass wealth as compared to their masters. Despite the fact that slavery was abolished several years ago, the former slaves and their descendants have not been able to rise to the level of their free counterparts. In isolated cases, some minority groups have acquired more wealth than the whites. However, on average, the minorities are poor. Ethnicity also affects employment rates as some employers have prejudices based on race.

Despite the fact that America is a leading economy, it has poverty incidents prevalent among some groups. Migration status, race, and education levels influence poverty levels in the country. While the country is striving to attain equitable distribution of wealth, the difference between the rich and the poor affects the overall outlook on living standards. America can effectively eradicate poverty by adopting a non-discriminate employment policy, uplifting the education standards of her people, and inspiring greater economic growth. It is only then that the country can live to her reputation of a superpower.


Michael, K. (2013). The Undeserving Poor: America’s Enduring Confrontation with Poverty. Oxford University Press.

Prasad, M. (2012). The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty. Harvard University Press.

Sasha, A. (2013). The America Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives. Nation Books.