The rising. “Over 36 million people in the United

The Impacts of Poverty on Individuals
and Their Communities

            Poverty has impacted every nation on
the planet. Wolfensohn (as cited in Wilkin, 2002) stated that “there are six
billion people on the planet of whom three billion…live on under $2 a day and a
billion two hundred million people live on under $1 a day.” Poverty is also affects
the United States and is continuously rising. “Over 36 million people in the
United States are living in poverty and 54 million are at severe risk of
falling into poverty” (Rynell, 2008). For the majority of individuals, poverty
has an undesirable influence on the minds and the living environment of
impoverished people. As a multifaceted system, poverty has an interconnected
relationship to mental illness, creating a culture of generational
insufficiency and community degradation.

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It is worth reflecting on history to gain
a greater understanding of how so many people have come to live in poverty.
Past systems such as racism, colonialism and capitalism have contributed much
to the collective body of poverty. Morrow referred to these systems as the
“isms,” racism, colonialism, and capitalism (Morrow et al. as seen in Mills
2012). Racism adds to poverty through denigrating persons of a certain
nationality on a mass scale, colonialism through conquest, land and resource
seizure, and finally capitalism through the commoditization of appropriated
lands and resources. These systems have also had an impact on the mental
trepidations that impoverished people sustain, hence a lineage of poverty and an
inability to escape impoverished situations. “In general, research suggests
that the longer a person has been poor, the less likely it is that he or she
will escape poverty” (Rynell, 2008). Generational poverty has a larger effect
on the majority of the population, many of whom fail to ever escape the cycle
of poverty.  

elasticity in earnings is estimated to be around 0.6 – this is the correlation
in earnings between parents and their children in adulthood. This means that
for 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 150
years) before their income will be within 5 percent of the national average.1Estimates
of intergenerational mobility are significantly lower for families with little
or no wealth. African Americans and single mothers and their children are less
likely to be upwardly mobile than other groups (Rynell, 2008).


In fact
the ability to support those who are impoverished would lie in a change of the


and the current economic system itself.


On the contrary, however, there are those
who are affected by poverty who do not allow their present state of deficiency
to completely affect every sector of their lives. Many individuals have chosen
to come to terms with their financial situations. In fact there are those who
allow their impoverishment to push them into a completely higher class all
together. We see this often time with professional sports players and even
those 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 of
defeating mental illness and surpassing expectations. This in turn creates a
new dynamic for wealth creation and a turning point in community contribution
if the individual decides to repair his or her childhood habitat; even from a
mental standpoint for those still living in poverty gaining from a visual

At present it can be shown that poverty
has many facets and elements, which make up the whole of its construction. The
ability to solve the issue of poverty is inevitable without addressing the
cyclical effects which create it. Poverty is a tangible condition which causes
a mental psychosis that breaks down its victims by means of negative
self-realization, feelings of worthlessness and mental illness.  In most urban neighborhoods there has been a
complete breakdown of the community habitational situation where one sees,
graffiti, drug sales, litter, abandoned homes and disarray. A study completed in
five urban communities by the Epidemiologic Catchment Area, found that 20,000
individuals were at risk for developing psychiatric disorders through
neighborhood disorganization; which elevated all of its resident’s risk of
developing depression (Anakwenze & Zuberi, 2013). Visual images tend to
affect the moods of poor individuals. Living in an environment that is unclean
and unkempt can also play a vital role of one’s self-image.

Furthermore, poverty effects a majority of
individuals, even if they do not themselves know that they are affected,
psychologically invoking feelings like depression and anger. Thoughts of
worthlessness or the need to find self-approval in others, can be caused by a
lack of sufficient finances to sustain ones living condition. The mental health
effects of poverty have been studied in academia circles for some time.

worldwide suggest that for most ‘mental disorders’, ‘the association between
low 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 with
poverty (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 groups
of a population (Holzer et al., 1986). Furthermore, four out of every ten
people suffering from ‘mental disorders’ are said to live in low and
middle-income countries (LMICs) (Funk, Drew, & Knapp, 2012). (As seen in
Mills 2015).


one might conclude there are many damaging effects of poverty. Children may be
by far the most affected by poverty. Suffering that originates in hunger and
the lack of social acceptance at a young age could adversely affect a child in the
education settings. Grades may suffer and their own self-acceptance could be
damaged causing the child to grown up in a mental state with thoughts of
worthlessness. According to Kim et al. (2015), “Childhood poverty is
consistently linked to a myriad of negative outcomes including biological
stress dysregulation.” (p. 213).

In conclusion, one can deduce that poverty
has had observable damaging effects on the urban population from the effects of
mental illness to community failure. Often we tend to think of the poor in a
negative manner without regard to systems which have created the institution of
poverty. Living in impoverished environments has been shown to cause many
psychological detriments; which lead to mental illnesses such as depression,
anxiety, and even schizophrenia. Poverty continues to thrive as a generational
factor in families who have suffered from the antiquities of history and
capitalism, further propelling the accounts of poverty throughout America. The
one change that can be made to completely dissolve poverty, would be to fully
educate the population on how poverty effects the whole of society and call for
a change in the current economic system for the benefit of humanity.