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The Cycle of Poverty

America is one of the wealthiest nations on earth with having a high inequality than
other industrialized country. Inequality exists in income, wealth, power and
education. Persons who are legally and socially poor in the United states tend to
stay in a cycle through life, not always by choice but because they are given fewer
opportunities, education and tools to achieve success. Poverty class has a much
larger income gap than the upper class, the American Dream is lessens through
opportunity and is shown through statistics.
Inequality exist and is high in America because the amount of income and wealth
that is distributed through power. In America the income distribution is very
inequality and the value of a person wealth is based on their income with their
debts subtracted. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned
34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the 19% (the managerial, professional, and
small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned
a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and
salary workers) (Domhoff, 2011). In contrary the poor do not get ahead and the
rich get more. Americans are judged and placed in class categories through their
home ownership which translates to wealth. Americans social class is often
associated with their assets and wealth. People seek to own property, to have high
incomes, to have interesting and safe jobs, to enjoy the finest in travel and leisure,
and to live long and healthy lives (Domhoff, 2011). Power indicates how these
values are not distributed equally in American society. Huge gains for the rich
include cuts in capital gains and dividends and when tax rates decrease for the tiny
percent of Americans income is redistributed. Taxes directly affect the wealth and
income of Americans every year.
For most Americans, the word poverty suggests destitution: an inability to provide
a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter (Rector, 2007).
Poverty can be socially defined through severe deprivation of education, food, safe
water, sanitation, and health care regardless of ones income. The U.S. Department
of Health and human Services periodically updates poverty guidelines and
depending on what state you live in the guidelines range. In 2009 the poverty
threshold for a family of five is $25,790 (Services, 2009). The federal poverty
levels are measured through the poverty guidelines and to determine financial
eligibility is done through poverty thresholds.
Poverty rate has many variations between ethnic and racial subgroups. In 2009,
25.8% blacks and 25.3% of Hispanics were poor, compared to 9.4% of non-Hispanic
whites and 12.5% of Asians (Michigan, 2006). Black or Hispanic families headed by
single women are statistically higher in poverty than of families head by single men
or married couples. Children are at higher risk of poverty verse elderly or middleaged persons. Poverty is around us regardless if it is a big city, small town and
affects all groups differently and poverty is often concentrated. The communities
that are suffering from poverty are low-quality communities, schools, with little jobs
available. Social network is at risk in communities that breeds drug and alcohol,

abuse and violence.

The social class of the poor is not achieved it is ascribed. People do not achieve to
be poor, get a less of an education, and struggle to get food, clothes and shelter.
Social classes work hard to achieve higher opportunities and advancements. Social
mobility and growth within demographics can be altered through negative
stereotypes. It is imperative that persons who are in poverty find self determination,
educational opportunities and find a way in society through upward mobility.
There are levels of social mobility for the poor based on the degree to which ones
earnings, housing status, education, and benefits change. People may feel as if they
are poor but earn a living higher than the poverty threshold. Education plays a role
in the continuation of the poverty cycle because the opportunity for education is
less for the poor verse other classes. The opportunity for education through
scholarships can help in the poverty cycle by giving opportunity to achieve an
education. Higher education enables a person to have better qualifications to get a
better paying job and helps the poor move out of poverty and into higher social
roles. When opportunities are inadequately provided to the poor it is at a macro
level. A micro level is through various cultures of poverty and values that poor
people set and hold.
The American dream is sought through the success, wealth, fame, and power.
Anyone can achieve their American dream. All levels of success vary depending on
what one would like to achieve. It is hard to justify the American dream when so
many people are poor because different people are consumed by desires for
status, material goods, and acceptance, Americans apparently had lost the sense of
individuality, thrift, hard work, and craftsmanship that had characterized the nation
(Warshauer, 2003).
Anthropologist Oscar Lewis argued that poor people hold a set of values-the culture
of poverty- that emphasizes living for the moment rather than thrift, investment in
the future, or hard work (Brinkerhoff, Ortega, Weitz, & White, 2011). Due to the fact
that most generations follow the class that they are born into, does not mean their
family values are lessened of other classes. The culture of poverty holds true if
people who are raised on welfare believe that it is best to remain on welfare verse
seeking employment to better them and make a living to support their families.
Labor markets affect poverty levels because as there are fewer opportunities
available for people to achieve jobs when the market is down, the number of
Americans that are falling into poverty increase. If the labor market is good, then if
you are a motivated individual in poverty you can achieve your American dream
through hard work and determination and climb out of the poverty cycle and out of
the poor class. Macroeconomic indicators include economy-wide phenomena such
as unemployment rates, national income, rates of growth, gross domestic product,
inflation, and price levels (Page & Stevens, 2005). Without labor market
opportunities the number of jobs from low to high skills, and wages may not be
available making it more difficult for one to fill their American dream.

Works Cited

Brinkerhoff, D. B., Ortega, S. T., Weitz, R., & White, L. K. (2011). Essentials of
Sociology. In D. B. Brinkerhoff, S. T. Ortega, R. Weitz, & L. K. White, Essentials of
Sociology (p. 166). Belmont: Wadsworth.
Domhoff, W. G. (2011, January). Power in America. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from
Michigan, T. U. (2006). Poverty in the United States. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from
Page, M. E., & Stevens, A. H. (2005, July). Understanding the Relation between Labor
Market Opportunities and Poverty Rates in California. Retrieved March 11, 2011,
Rector, R. (2007, August 27). How Poor Are America's Poor? Examining the "Plague"
of Poverty in America. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from
Services, U. D. (2009, January 23). The 2009 HHS Poverty Guidelines. Retrieved
March 11, 2011, from www.aspe.hhs.fov:
Warshauer, M. (2003, February 23). Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Retrieved March
11, 2011, from