Skip to main content
University of Washington Health Sciences Library

SOC W 501 Poverty & Inequality

Definition of Poverty

This definition from UNESCO covers different types of poverty. Click on the link for the complete definition - this is just the first two paragraphs.

Poverty

Reducing poverty has become an international concern, yet there is no international consensus on guidelines for measuring poverty. 

In pure economic terms, income poverty is when a family's income fails to meet a federally established threshold that differs across countries. Typically it is measured with respect to families and not the individual, and is adjusted for the number of persons in a family. Economists often seek to identify the families whose economic position (defined as command over resources) falls below some minimally acceptance level.
Similarly, the international standard of extreme poverty is set to the possession of less than 1$ a day. 

Frequently, poverty is defined in either relative or absolute terms. Absolute poverty measures poverty in relation to the amount of money necessary to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. The concept of absolute poverty is not concerned with broader quality of life issues or with the overall level of inequality in society. The concept therefore fails to recognise that individuals have important social and cultural needs. This, and similar criticisms, led to the development of the concept of relative poverty. Relative poverty defines poverty in relation to the economic status of other members of the society: people are poor if they fall below prevailing standards of living in a given societal context. An important criticism of both concepts is that they are largely concerned with income and consumption. 
 

Health Sciences Library | 1959 NE Pacific Street, T334 Health Sciences Building, Box 357155, Seattle, WA 98195-7155 USA, 206-543-3390 | Privacy | Terms
CC BY-NC 4.0 Text on this page created by UW Libraries is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license. Images and video are not included. See details.