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How Poverty in the United States Is Measured and Why It Matters

A major goal of the White House’s Build Back Better Act is to reduce poverty in America. But how do we define and measure poverty—and what are the consequences?

January 31, 2022

Lillian Kilduff

Research Analyst

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked renewed interest in the social safety net and the government’s role in reducing poverty. Following record-breaking unemployment and economic instability, the U.S. government allocated billions of dollars in emergency relief through the CARES Act, the Consolidated Appropriation Act, and the American Rescue Plan. Recently, the Biden administration proposed a $1 trillion reconciliation bill—the Build Back Better Act—to support American children and families in need.

How those Build Back Better Act dollars are distributed will depend partly on how lawmakers decide to measure poverty. The current bill uses multiple poverty measures to determine eligibility and allocate funds. For example, access to child care is prioritized for “families with income that does not exceed 200 percent of the Federal poverty level.” Children are eligible for Medicaid if they live in families with income that does not exceed 133% of the poverty line. Certain programs to help cover home heating and cooling costs are available to low-income households at or below 80% of the area median income or 200% of the poverty level.

Understanding the differences between poverty measures is important because these variations determine the number of people who may be eligible to receive benefits and guide decisionmakers in their efforts to provide economic relief.

How the Official Poverty Measure Is Calculated

When U.S. lawmakers speak about lifting people out of poverty, they are typically referring to the official poverty measure, which first originated as a tool in Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty in the 1960s. 1 Before the “war” could begin, the Johnson administration needed a way to count the number of people in poverty, deliver aid, and measure the effectiveness of anti-poverty policies. Johnson’s new Office of Economic Opportunity settled on a definition based on an article written by Social Security Administration economist Mollie Orshansky. She developed the measure using the Department of Agriculture’s food plans, based on the minimum amount of food needed to have a nutritionally “fair” to “good” diet. 2 The definition has remained largely unaltered since the 1960s.

Today, there are two versions of the official poverty measure: 1) Poverty thresholds, produced by the U.S. Census Bureau, and 2) Federal poverty guidelines (FPG), produced by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 3 Poverty thresholds are used to measure poverty, whereas poverty guidelines are used to determine eligibility for certain federal programs. Poverty threshold calculations are affected by peoples’ age and family composition. Poverty guidelines simply use the number of people in a family unit to determine poverty status. 4 They also vary by geography; Alaska and Hawaii have separate poverty guidelines. Both poverty thresholds and guidelines are updated each year based on annual changes in the consumer price index. And both are only calculated for people whose poverty status can be determined: People living in prisons, nursing homes, college dorms, military barracks, and other unconventional housing situations are not factored into the poverty estimates. 5

The Census Bureau reported that 37.2 million people, or 11.4% of the U.S. population, were living in poverty in 2020, based on official poverty thresholds. 6 The federal government does not publish estimates on the number of people living below the HHS poverty guidelines, although these statistics are used to estimate the number of people eligible for particular programs.

Developing a Better Poverty Measure

Most researchers, policymakers, and others who study poverty would agree that the official measure is flawed. The official poverty measure is based on a family’s pretax cash income and does not include non-cash benefits from housing subsidies, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or other forms of government relief. 7 Costs related to housing, clothing, transportation, and other expenses commonly considered basic human needs are not considered. And the official measure does not account for variations in the cost of living across the country.

In 2010, the Census Bureau, working with the Office of Management and Budget, produced the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) to address the shortcomings of the official poverty measure. Like the official measure, there are two components to the SPM: the minimum cost of basic needs (expenses) and the income that a family generates (financial resources). But the SPM also factors in non-cash transfers, like SNAP benefits and tax credits; expenses related to medical care, child care, taxes, and food; geographic cost-of-living differences; and whether a family is renting or paying a mortgage. The SPM also covers a broader population; in particular, the definition of families is expanded to include unmarried partners and their children, unrelated children under age 15, and foster children.

The SPM uses estimates from the Consumer Expenditure Survey to calculate average spending on various resources. 8 Unlike the federal poverty guidelines, the SPM is not intended to be used to determine program eligibility.

Table 1: Comparing the Official Poverty Measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure

In 2020, 29.8 million Americans were living below the SPM poverty threshold (9.1% of the population). 9

Defining Need Based on “Multiples” of the Poverty Guidelines or Median Income

In addition to the official poverty measure and SPM, many programs use multiples of the federal poverty guidelines to determine eligibility. For example, SNAP eligibility guidelines are 130% of the FPG, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) caps eligibility at 185% of the FPG. 10 Families with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty threshold—$52,492 for two adults and two related children in 2020—are often classified as “low-income.” Families are classified as being in “deep poverty” if their income falls below 50% of the poverty guidelines ($13,123 for a family of four). 11

In 2020, 17.9 million people fell below 50% of the poverty threshold (5.5% of the population), and 89.7 million people lived below the 200% poverty threshold (27.5% of the population). 12

To better adjust for geographic differences, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses a state’s median family income as the basis for its definition of low-income. HUD defines low-income as 80% of a state’s median family income and very low-income as 50% of the state’s median family income. 13

How Are Poverty Data Collected?

There are two primary sources for U.S. poverty statistics: the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey.

The official annual estimates of national poverty levels are calculated from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS ASEC) . A joint program between the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPS ASEC collects information about income and benefits received during the previous calendar year and is best used for national-level estimates. The Census Bureau recommends using multiyear averages to compare CPS ASEC data across states due to the relatively small sample size (approximately 100,000 households per year). 14

Every year, the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) surveys about 3.5 million addresses on a wide range of topics, including their income the year prior to the survey. Unlike the CPS ASEC, ACS 1-year estimates can be used at the state level. Five-year ACS estimates can be used to measure poverty for geographic areas as small as block groups, although margins of error may be too large for smaller geographic areas or population subgroups.

The Census Bureau also produces single-year poverty estimates for counties and school districts through its Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) program. SAIPE data are model-based estimates that combine ACS data with administrative records and are the best source for up-to-date poverty statistics for substate areas.

State-Specific Poverty Measures

Many organizations have developed custom poverty measures to study economic disparities and monitor trends in their states. The Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford University Center on Poverty and Inequality developed the California Poverty Measure (CPM) to better understand poverty in California and how patterns vary across counties (see map). Like the SPM, the CPM adjusts for differences in geographic costs of living and Earned Income Tax Credit benefits. However, the CPM also accounts for non-cash benefits like CalFresh and CalWORKs that are unique to California. 15 Similar measures have been developed in New York and Oregon. 16

The Self-Sufficiency Standard is another measure of economic need that has gained attention in recent years. Originally developed for counties in Washington state, the Self-Sufficiency Standard is now used in more than 40 states to determine the amount of income working families need to make ends meet. 17

Measuring Poverty During the Coronavirus Pandemic

One of the challenges with all of these poverty measures is timeliness. Policymakers need up-to-date information to make informed funding decisions, but poverty data typically lag behind other key economic measures like unemployment, inflation, stock-market, and consumer-confidence indicators. Official poverty measure estimates reflecting the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic were not available until September 2021—18 months after the pandemic was declared a national emergency.

The official poverty measure is over 50 years old, but—despite its flaws—remains a widely used measure of Americans’ economic well-being. This article outlines a few of the alternative measures decisionmakers are currently using to assess economic need. However, COVID-19 showed us how quickly people’s economic circumstances can change during a crisis. To provide accurate, up-to-date poverty data for decision-making, researchers need to consider alternative methods of evaluating and tracking economic well-being based on real-time data from administrative records and other nontraditional sources.

For more information about the surveys the Census Bureau uses to measure poverty, read their page on surveys and programs .

1 Gordon M. Fisher, “The Development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds and Their Subsequent History as the Official U.S. Poverty Measure,” Census Working Papers (September 1997): 1-2.

2 Fisher, “The Development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds and Their Subsequent History as the Official U.S. Poverty Measure.”

3 U.S. Census Bureau, “ Poverty Thresholds ”; and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, “ 2021 Poverty Guidelines .”

4 Amanda Lee, “ U.S. Poverty Thresholds and Poverty Guidelines: What’s the Difference? ” Population Reference Bureau,  March 25, 2018.

5 U.S. Census Bureau, “ How the Census Bureau Measures Poverty ,” November 22, 2021.

6 U.S. Census Bureau, “ POV-01. Age and Sex of All People, Family Members and Unrelated Individuals, Below 100% of Poverty — All Races (1) .” Note: The poverty universe includes all members of the resident civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States, excluding unrelated children under age 15.

7 Liana E. Fox and Kalee Burns, “ What’s the Difference Between the Supplemental and Official Poverty Measures? ” Random Samplings (blog), U.S. Census Bureau, September 9 2021.

8 Fox and Burns, “What’s the Difference Between the Supplemental and Official Poverty Measures?”

9 Liana Fox and Kalee Burns, The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2020 , U.S. Census Bureau, September 14, 2021.

10 U.S. Department of Agriculture, “ SNAP Eligibility ”; and U.S. Department of Agriculture, “ WIC Eligibility Requirements .”

11 The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Center, “ Children in Extreme Poverty (50 Percent Poverty) in the United States ,” September 2020; and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, F inancial Condition and Health Care Burdens of People in Deep Poverty , July 2015.

12 U.S. Census Bureau, “ POV-01. Age and Sex of All People, Family Members and Unrelated Individuals, Below 50% of Poverty—All Races (1) ”; and U.S. Census Bureau, “ POV-01. Age and Sex of All People, Family Members and Unrelated Individuals, Below 200% of Poverty—All Races (1) .”

13 Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Fact Sheet , 2021.

14 U.S. Census Bureau, “ Differences Between Available Surveys/Programs for Poverty .”

15 Caroline Danielson et al., The California Poverty Measure: A New Look at the Social Safety Net , Public Policy Institute of California, October 2013.

16 Oregon State University, “ The Oregon Poverty Measure ”; and New York City Government, Appendix B: Deriving a Poverty Threshold for New York City , 2018.

17 University of Washington, Center for Women’s Welfare, “ Overview: What Is the Self-Sufficiency Standard? ”

How is poverty measured?

Poverty is measured in the United States by comparing a person’s or family’s income to a set poverty threshold or minimum amount of income needed to cover basic needs. People whose income falls under their threshold are considered poor.

The U.S. Census Bureau is the government agency in charge of measuring poverty. To do so, it uses two main measures, the official poverty measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure, both of which are described in this FAQ.

Official Poverty Measure

The Census Bureau determines poverty status by using an official poverty measure (OPM) that compares pre-tax cash income against a threshold that is set at three times the cost of a minimum food diet in 1963 and adjusted for family size.

The OPM uses calculations of these three elements—income, threshold, and family—to estimate what percentage of the population is poor.

The official poverty estimates are drawn from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC), which is conducted in February, March, and April with a sample of approximately 100,000 addresses per year.

In 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, the OPM national poverty rate was 12.7 percent. There were 40.6 million people in poverty.

The CPS ASEC questionnaire asks about income from more than 50 sources and records up to 27 different income amounts. Income is defined by the OPM to include, before taxes, the following sources:

The OPM does not include as income noncash government benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and housing assistance.

Poverty thresholds, the minimum income needed to avoid poverty, are updated annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index , and adjusted for family size, composition, and age of householder.

OPM thresholds do not vary geographically.* In 2016, the OPM poverty threshold for a family of four was $24,339.

Poverty thresholds serve different purposes, including tracking poverty over time, comparing poverty across different demographic groups, and as the starting point for determining eligibility for a range of federal assistance programs.

(To learn more about using the poverty thresholds, or their administrative counterpoint, the poverty guidelines, for determining program eligibility, see FAQ: What are poverty thresholds and poverty guidelines? )

* The Census Bureau cautions that the thresholds should be interpreted as a “statistical yardstick” rather than as a complete accounting of how much income people need to live. They were intended to define and quantify poverty in America and to record changes in the number of persons and families in poverty and their characteristics over time.

Family is defined by the OPM as a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption who reside together. All such people (including related subfamily members) are considered as members of one family.

In 1959, when the official government poverty series began, poverty was estimated at 22 percent. Before that time, unofficial estimates by researchers found a poverty rate in 1914 of 66 percent; 78 percent in 1932; 32 percent in 1947; and 24 percent in 1958.**

Figure 1 shows more recent poverty rates, in 1968, 1990, and 2016, by age, race, and Hispanic origin, using the OPM.

Figure 1. Official U.S. poverty rates in 1968, 1990, and 2016 show variation by age and racial/ethnic group and over time

poverty measures essay outline

** R. D. Plotnick, E. Smolensky, E. Evenhouse, and S. Reilly, “The Twentieth-Century Record of Inequality and Poverty in the United States,” in The Cambridge Economic History of the United States, Vol. 3, eds. S. L. Engerman and R. E. Gallman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 249-299; G. Fisher, “Estimates of the Poverty Population under the Current Official Definition for Years before 1959,” mimeograph, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1986.

The Census Bureau releases the results of their analysis using the OPM every year in a report called Income and Poverty in the United States . The report includes charts and tables on information such as the following:

To learn more about the official poverty measure, see the Census Bureau discussion, “How the Census Bureau Measures Poverty,” and the infographic, “ How Census Measures Poverty .”

Researchers and policymakers have long called for changes to the official poverty measure for a number of reasons. However, in spite of its shortcomings, detailed below, its salience in policymaking is noted by the economists Bruce D. Meyer and James X. Sullivan:

Few economic indicators are more closely watched or more important for policy than the official poverty rate. The poverty rate is often cited by policymakers, researchers, and advocates who are evaluating social programs that account for more than half a trillion dollars in government spending.

Principal criticisms of the OPM include:

While the official measure remains the official national poverty statistic, the Census Bureau has been estimating poverty using a number of experimental measures as well, since the mid-1990s. See Poverty: Experimental Measures on the Census Bureau’s website for more about these approaches.

The most recent and prominent experimental measure, the Supplemental Poverty Measure—a work-in-progress that supplements but does not replace the official measure—is discussed below.

Supplemental Poverty Measure

The Census Bureau introduced the Supplemental Poverty Measure or SPM in 2010 to provide an alternative view of poverty in the United States that better reflects life in the 21st century, including contemporary social and economic realities and government policy.

As its name suggests, the SPM supplements but does not replace the official poverty measure, which remains the nation’s source for official poverty statistics and for determining means-tested program eligibility.

In a side-by-side comparison of the official poverty measure and the SPM, the Census Bureau notes their differences in measurement units, poverty threshold, threshold adjustments (e.g., by family size), updating thresholds, and what counts as resources, summarized in Table 3 below.

Source: L. Fox, “The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2016,” Current Population Reports P60-261 (RV), Revised September 2017.

Note: “Family” as defined by the Census Bureau is “a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together; all such people (including related subfamily members) are considered as members of one family.”

A comparison of official and SPM poverty rates in 2016 for the total population and among three age groups: under age 18, adults ages 18 to 64, and elders age 65 and over, is shown in Figure 2.

For most groups, SPM poverty rates were higher than official poverty rates; children are an exception with 15.2 percent poor using the SPM and 18.0 percent poor using the official measure. Analysts attribute the lower SPM child poverty rate largely to the measure’s inclusion of noncash benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) benefits.

The much higher SPM poverty rates for people age 65 and older—14.5 percent vs. 9.3 percent using the OPM—partially reflect that the official thresholds are set lower for families with householders in this age group, while the SPM thresholds do not vary by age.

In addition, the SPM rate is higher for people age 65 and older because it includes out-of-pocket medical expenditures, which are typically high for the elderly, whereas the official measure does not take them into account.

Figure 2. Poverty rates using OPM and SPM measures for total population and by age group, 2016, show a higher OPM child poverty rate and higher SPM elderly poverty rates.

poverty measures essay outline

The World Bank

Measuring Poverty

The World Bank Group’s mission is to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. In order to monitor progress and understand the types of poverty reduction strategies that could work, it is important to measure poverty regularly.

The international poverty line is set at $2.15 per person per day using 2017 prices. This means that anyone living on less than $2.15 a day is in extreme poverty. About 648 million people globally were in this situation in 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt the biggest setback to global poverty-reduction efforts since 1990, increasing the number of people in extreme poverty by about 70 million, to 719 million people. Rising energy and food crises, caused in part by the war in Ukraine, and the effects of climate change contribute to an uneven recovery.

To better understand whether the world is on track to end extreme poverty, and how individual countries are faring, we must regularly measure progress. Poverty measurement and analysis have been a key aspect of the World Bank’s mission for years, as is our work to share knowledge and methods for how to measure poverty more accurately and more frequently.

By measuring poverty, we learn which poverty reduction strategies work, and which do not. Poverty measurement also helps developing countries gauge program effectiveness and guide their development strategy in a rapidly changing economic environment.

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Measuring poverty and communicating poverty reduction results are long-standing priorities for the World Bank. In 2015, we set up a Commission on Global Poverty to provide recommendations on how to measure and monitor global poverty more comprehensively. The Commission provided 21 recommendations. They included broadening the scope of poverty measurements to include non-monetary measures, introducing a societal headcount measure of global poverty, and publishing a global profile of the poor.

The World Bank Group has committed to adopting most of these recommendations. In 2017, we introduced two complementary global poverty lines, which can be used as a benchmark for countries across the world whose level of development makes the International Poverty Line — $2.15 per day — not relevant. The $3.65 and $6.85 per person, per day poverty lines complement, not replace, the International Poverty Line.

In 2018, the World Bank report Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle broadened the ways we define and measure poverty, by:

Twice a year, the World Bank Group produces Poverty and Equity Briefs that highlight poverty, shared prosperity, and inequality trends in each country. In September 2019, the country Poverty Briefs also began to report data on multidimensional poverty indicators and progressively increased coverage to 144 countries (which appear in the latest PSPR).

In 2020, COVID-19 posed a new challenge to measuring the impact of the devastating pandemic, particularly on the poor and vulnerable. Surveys based on face-to-face interviews were hindered by social distancing protocols and limitations on mobility. Policy makers needed timely and relevant information on the impacts of the crisis as well as the effectiveness of their policy measures to save lives and support livelihoods. World Bank-supported phone surveys to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on households and individuals were then implemented in 89 countries across all developing regions.

We are also working with country statistical offices to build local capacity and to help nations develop and implement their poverty surveys, as well as assess results.

On monitoring project impacts, the Bank Group has two main tools to improve and measure results in real-time: Survey of Well-being via Instant Frequent Tracking (SWIFT) and Iterative Beneficiary Monitoring (IBM) . These tools rely on mobile technology, and big and small data to produce information on specific project results and on consumption/income of project beneficiaries. IBM is currently mainstreamed in [more than 40] operations in FCV and non-FCV contexts. SWIFT plays an important role in linking poverty and sector-specific indicators through affordable data collection and analysis.

Together with our country clients, we are now developing and testing high-frequency survey methods that rely on mobile technology or prediction methods. Working with national statistical offices and non-governmental organizations, our Listening to Africa initiative is piloting the use of mobile phones to regularly collect information on living conditions in [six] African countries.

Official global, regional, and country poverty results are based on data that the World Bank compiles and disseminates through our Poverty and Inequality Platform .

The World Bank's advisory and technical support has led to survey and methodological improvements in many countries. Here are a few examples:

By combining population census and household surveys, we worked with the statistical office of the Republic of Serbia to develop a set of poverty maps that show variability in welfare across the country and estimate the poverty rates for small geographic areas, such as districts and municipalities. Similar efforts were carried out in Croatia .

Poverty in Tajikistan is seasonal and is linked to farm work and remittances. Given this nuance, the country introduced a new approach to assess and measure poverty that is based on international best-practices and relies on quarterly household budget survey. The new measure helps the government report on poverty both on a quarterly and annual basis.

Interactive poverty maps are a useful tool to visualize and compare poverty rates across geographic areas. Using three different datasets, the World Bank rolled out the interactive poverty maps for Bangladesh , which explore and visualize socioeconomic data at the district and the sub-district levels of the country. The World Bank has also produced a spatial database of Afghanistan , which visualizes data from reliable sources at the province and district level. And the World Bank partnered with the National Statistics and Information Authority of Afghanistan to produce the first set of poverty maps for Afghanistan for the provinces of Kabul and Herat.

Decades of civil war and political fragmentation have made Somalia one of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. To better understand the impact of economic hardship on the lives of ordinary Somalis, the World Bank, together with the Somali statistical authorities created the Somali High Frequency survey and published the recent Somali Poverty and Vulnerability Assessment , which analyzes data and provides valuable insights about the underlying causes of poverty and the best strategies for fighting it. Voluntary video testimonials of Somalis were recorded and complemented the quantitative date to further zoom into their lives.

To fill the lack of reliable data in South Sudan, we have used an innovative questionnaire design for a high frequency survey to document the livelihoods, consumption patterns and perceptions of the people. In addition, we have started to collect video testimonials from people to capture the situation on the ground. 

Last Updated: Apr 16, 2021


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Around the bank group.

Find out what the World Bank Group's branches are doing on Measuring Poverty.


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Poverty essay, poverty sample essay & outline.



A clear understanding of poverty impacts on American based youth is highly imperative for all professionals, welfare organizations and adults called upon to support young generation. According to several journals such as Prevention Researcher; the effects of poverty are immense among youths. Therefore, any poverty reduction proponents must first engage in surveying meaning, causes, theories on poverty and finally the impacts on youths in America. American youth’s poverty statistical figures are shocking. They reveal that poverty continues to encroach progressively to the youth community. Steven Ungerleider, Ph.D. and the founding editor of The Prevention Researcher in 1994 discussed information about the effects of poverty on youths in America. Programs that create supportive based environments for youth, strategies for preventing various problems affecting youth in America and resources that help youth-serving professionals and families. The main idea behind the objectives of this dissertation is to address the impact of impecuniosity on American youth (Steven & Wheaton, June 06, 2010). To meet this objective, the researcher purpose to critically look into the meaning of poverty and especially to youths, causes, theories and finally link to impacts. Discussion

Poverty is a state of privation or lack of usual socially accepted amount of basic needs or money to meet one's daily wants. The U.S government has set the poverty threshold that defines poverty among youths as the lack of necessary goods and services commonly termed back the mainstream based society as a basic. The official youth poverty threshold is embedded on inflation and consumer price index. In 2012, the U.S government revealed that youths from 58.5 percent of all Americans wallowed in cornucopia of poverty, with those aged 12-25 years old adversely affected. The poverty level rates are persistently high in inner city parts and rural areas compared to the suburban based areas. A 2013 UNICEF poverty report ranked U.S as one of those states with highest relative children and youth poverty rate. Americans were ranked second with over 16 percent of the entire population being poor youth (Wenk, & Hardesty, March 01, 2003). Looking at the study published in The Prevention Researcher from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Vanessa provides a descriptive analysis of American youth living in poverty. She reveals reviews the consequences of penuriousness to the children as well as the adolescents , and the main hypothesis used to expound the result of impecuniosity on youth outcomes. The article states that Poverty among youths aged 17–25 is a growing problem. Some types of youth, such as black and Hispanic and those living with poorly educated single parent or living without parents altogether, are at a risk of being poor than others. In addition to that, the U.S statistical Bureau released some shocking statistics that “the trend in poverty among adolescents aged 18–34 mirrors around the entire population. In 2000, 14% of youth were poor. By the year 2009, the percentage of the youth living in poverty had increased to above 17%. When youth who are living in near-poor based families with incomes that ranged between 100% and 199% of the aforementioned poverty threshold is included, a total of 38% of all youth lives in low-income based families an increase from 33% in year 2000.

A case study about a newly single mother was used to exploring four of the most common explanations for why people and especially youth are impoverished. The variables were; individualism, social structuralism, the culture of poverty, and fatalism. She notes that youth and families living in poverty must move beyond own myths as well as biases. First and foremost, penuriousness is a highly intricate predicted phenomenon, and that it is likely that most of the explications come into play at once. Some of the impacts of poverty witnessed on youth from America include; Leads to Poor health status; Poverty affects youth both mentally and physically. The absence of necessities, extracurricular programs and recreational opportunities made to benefit those leads to poor health and stress , therefore, mental infliction. The parents tell them that they do not have the means or ability to finance education, good health among others, therefore, this affects negatively the youth’s social life. Psychologists admit that this situation wreaks greater havoc on the youth than any abuse-based situation. An article written by Meredith Minkler on behalf of the Park Ridge Center provided a critical thinking on how poverty affects health. Public health specialists reveal that once poverty gets into the skin, the health will worsen due to several factors. Poverty can worsen health status after chronic deprivation and limited access to various health resources. those resources include food — housing, and education, unsafe jobs — or those even involving high demands and some low resources for coping, chronic based psychological stress and exposure to environmental based slums toxins. Most of the scholars have linked the high-income inequality and especially in United States of America with an adverse effect of poverty on health. In America, it’s just not being poor but being in a poor society where many others are stinging of riches. Raft of studies demonstrated that the very fact of being around individuals who are higher on the socioeconomically based ladder causes someone to experience significant elevated stress, lower level of feelings and control over his or her lives, and mistrust in the society and surroundings. Another factor suggests that people at a lower level of socioeconomic status have correspondingly less opportunity to control the different circumstances and events that affect lives. In the words of epidemiology this lack of "control over my destiny and life” may be a fundamental concept that can assist to explain why the poor are weak in almost all the disease and disability category, regardless of their particular habits and behaviors. Therefore in conclusion, poverty has a great effect on health. Secondly, the high poverty level affects the academic achievement or educational level of the American youth. As per the United States of America Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012), Poverty has particularly adversely impacted on the educational outcomes of youth, especially during early childhood. The children attend schools even when they have not eaten. The adversely affected children are those from single mothers are comprised of 30 percent of the impoverished nation. The single mothers cannot even avoid diapers.

This triggers negative child mental, health, and behavioral effects. Some of the areas in which youth education and academic performance have been affected include; District of Columbia, Arizona, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Virginia. In addition to that, those who fail to secure university grades find it difficult to proceed with education. Some of them do not even manage to attend polytechnics hence poverty had an adverse effect on their health. To cut the school dropout of youths aged 12-17 years in high schools, the government decided to ensure that 31 million low-income children and youth received free price meals daily through the National School Lunch Program started in 2012 federal fiscal based year (Berzin, & De, January 01, 2010). Therefore, poverty has a negative effect on the quality education. Given that the education system in America is locally funded, quality of materials and teachers reflects the affluence of the community. Low-income communities can’t support quality education compared to the high income communities. To some extent, the children of the poor or in-cognizant people are visually perceived as just mere replicas of their parents fated to live out the same impoverish or in-cognizant life.The result of such a perception will be edifies that will not put forth the indispensable effort to edify and students that are opposed to mundane learning; in both scenarios the conception is that the poorly predicted student is incapable. Females from a poor family are withal liable to becoming pregnant at early ages, and with fewer resources to take care for children. Young women often drop out of school. Due to these reasons the quality of education level between the classes is not equal.

Therefore in summary form, Poverty has an adverse effect on the academic performances of children, especially during the early childhood season. According to American Psychological Association (APA) 2010 report, need trigger chronic stress associated poor children’s concentration and loss of memory which may impact their ability level to learn. The same report stipulated that in 2007, the rate of dropouts of students who live in the low-income families was about ten times higher than the rate of their peers hailing from high-income families (8.8% vs. 0.9%). Third, penuriousness causes psycho social effects among the American predicated youths. The American Psychological Association revealed that children living in impecuniosity are at higher risk of behavioral and emotional predicated quandaries. Some of the behavioral problems may involve the impulsiveness, difficulty getting along with their peers, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), aggression, and conduct disorder. Moreover, emotional quandaries may cause apprehensiveness, high melancholy, and low self-esteem. Lastly, unsafe neighborhoods environment may expose sundry low-income children to home predicted violence which trigger psycho social difficulties. Violence exposure can also create future violent based behavior in youth which places them at higher risk of injury, mortality and juvenile justice system (Sreenivasan, 2009). In the integration to that; impecuniosity may additionally trigger youth to engage in perilous demeanor such as reckless smoking or engagement in early sexual activity. Black and Hispanic youths are adversely affected hence tempted from engaging in sexual immoralities or crime to earn daily bread . Some of them are also subjected to early marriages where they end up giving birth to more children then how they can support (Berliner, December 24, 2013).

These children turnout to suffer just like parents and, therefore, proceed to become urchins. 21% of all children who live in the United States live in penuriousness, about 46% of the black children and 40% of the Latino children reside in impecuniosity. All these turn out to be poor youth who can define own life. The US government has been accused of ignoring income disparity which has triggered tremendous generic based poverty across the country. The youth has no employment opportunities amid of having good papers. Another result of the poverty level on American youth was an increased number of suicides. Most of the youth find it difficult to cope with hard economic life. The eventual result involves them commit suicide or even hang them. The federal government and health agencies identified lack of jobs and poverty as the main cause of the problem. Given that insurance covers are not accessible to low income youth, Medicaid practitioners ignore the low income youth patients (Arrighi& Maume, 2007).

The eventual result of this involves low income youth spent nights in emergency rooms instead of nursing beds. This means that the state and community must play an active role in saving these youth from poverty, The federal government should create youth fund, implement substantial drug and abuse prevention based programs that call for the reduction of drug abuse . Moreover, the aged should be provided with business related fund so as to start own business. Moreover, the federal government can achieve some tax based programs so as to control the excessive, poor and rich differences within the country. The youth pleads with government for more job opportunities and reduction in license costs so as to enhance low income people prosperity. More connection between the schools and federal government in the provision of school based health programs. The program may identify in advance those children suffering from mental illness for early treatment. The eventual result will be reduced suicide cases and, therefore, healthy youth who can work for the country develops. Whenever, the youths are ignored, some of the government based programs fail such as sports. This call for the state to recognize sports and they can create some job opportunities for the impoverished youth. It can also reduce the number of crimes and alcoholism in the country and especially among youths. As poverty level increases in America from 46.2 in 2012 to 50 million, where the parents are totally financially unstable, and the number of youth indulged in poverty increased to 21.9 percent. This means that they are in the great depression of not even earning or saving for own needs. High poverty level denies the youth from engaging in life based epic situations such as saving and becoming independent.

The lack of jobs coupled by extreme home poverty lead to most of them reach adult age but continue to eat, cook and bathe under the parents care. This situation means that they cannot even safe for future life. The living standard lived to not match their standard. Given that it can chronologically move from the parents to children, the children tend to inherit poverty rather than wealth. The vulnerable youth from low income families is at danger of being further screwed by poverty till the end. A large number of them have not attended school or are school dropout. They have little or no knowledge about financial matters or business. America needs to take necessary precautions so as to reduce poverty and homelessness especially for the future generation found from the current youth. A good example of this happened in Oregon province where everyone out of four of the youth wallowed in extreme poverty. In 2007, 2.9% of Oregonians lived below the poverty line.

However, on failure of the youth to save and engage on instrumental country building activities, the poverty rate reached 17.5% in 2011.This means an increase of 190,000 Oregonians fell below the poverty line. A competition for high school scholarships will become increasingly high and the number of students joining various colleges will decline a substantial number. The youth grows to become adults and, therefore, we can accede on the principle of an incremented penuriousness level. Poverty has also been linked to youth being unable to meet their basic needs. Like food shelter and clothing. Most of them are in streets or even dependent on the parents for the basic needs. The parents cannot sustain them and, therefore, a lot of quarrel and fight dominates the families. The youth end up being very arrogant and, therefore, elope from the family to streets. In the street, they cannot be provided with all necessities. Some of them have tattered clothes and do not take a bath, therefore, they live miserable life (Bugental et al, December 01, 2010)..

Recently, the United States street children statistics and released by the United States Census Bureau were alarming. They revealed a three hundred percent increase in the number since 2002.This was a clear indication of most youth engages in marriage or promiscuity before giving birth to unwanted children. The government had to come up with incipient policies on how to reduce the number of street children by family orchestrating measures among the youth levels. However, this does not solve the eminent poverty problem and, therefore, income generating projects should be introduced. Essentially, the government should also ensure more school and no dropout in schools (Valadez, November 01, 2010). A 2013 FBI (Federal Bureau Investigation) report revealed that violent crimes such as murders and robberies increased by over 3.7 percent since 2010.Most of these malefactions are committed by puerile boys and girls aged from 18-25 years(Zuberi, January 01, 2011). The crimes are rampant in over 18 cities and suburban regions, The Study found out that many youths have limited parental oversight and are too easily influenced by gang based membership hence glamorized violence in popular culture. Moreover, that an increasing number of offenders appear to be young and their crimes highly violent and, therefore, laws in some states provide very few, if any, tough penalties on juvenile offenders. The nationwide crime rates spike triggered the justice department to pledge for an additional 50 million dollars for more juvenile cases. This reflects how the poverty cases have led the youths to engage in crime matters. Most of them have lost lives on the process through bullets. Moreover, others have been stoned to death by angry mob, therefore, the state and the entire society must cooperate to see how they can create jobs or provide them with the loans for local businesses. Increasing the number of courts and jails is not a solution to the problem. Conclusion

In summary form, the above mentioned effects of poverty on youth in America should be solved through various ways. First, the youth must be supported financially to start companies. Secondly, they must be provided with necessary education for business. Moreover, the high income disparity has discouraged most of the poor individuals, therefore, the state must devise some mechanisms such as taxation to control the difference. In addition to that, the youth should be provided with insurance covers for better health services. The hospitals must understand that youth represent the future wealth of the nation and, therefore, they deserve a good health. References

Wenk, D. A., & Hardesty, C. (March 01, 2003). The Effects of Rural-to-Urban Migration on the Poverty Status of Youth in the 1990s¹. Rural Sociology, 58, 1, 76-92. Berliner, D. C. (December 24, 2013). Effects of inequality and poverty vs. teachers and schooling on America's youth. Teachers College Record, 115, 12.) Arrighi, B. A., & Maume, D. J. (2007). Child poverty in America today. Westport, Conn: Praeger. Valadez, L. (November 01, 2010). Medium-term effects of household poverty on child well-being: A study in a subsample of pre-school children in rural Mexico. Journal of International Development, 22, 8, 1146-1161 Berzin, S. C., & De, M. A. (January 01, 2010). Understanding the Impact of Poverty on Critical Events in Emerging Adulthood. Youth & Society, 42, 2, 278-300. Eduardo, M. (September 06, 2011). How Do Social Networks Matter in Reducing the Effects of Poverty?. International Journal of Sociology, 41, 2, 10-27. Steven Ungerleider, & Wheaton, L. (June 06, 2010). Estimating the potential effects of poverty reduction policies. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 29, 2, 387-400. Bugental, D. B., Schwartz, A., & Lynch, C. (December 01, 2010). Effects of an Early Family Intervention on Children's Memory: The Mediating Effects of Cortisol Levels. Mind, Brain, and Education, 4, 4, 159-170. Zuberi, D. (January 01, 2011). Contracting Out Hospital Support Jobs: The Effects of Poverty Wages, Excessive Workload, and Job Insecurity on Work and Family Life. American Behavioral Scientist, 55, 7, 920-940. Sreenivasan, J. (2009). Poverty and the government in America: A historical encyclopedia. Santa Barbara,

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Illiteracy highly contributes to poverty in the modern society. Surprisingly, despite the application of advanced technology in the current society, about a quarter of the global population lie below the literacy level (they do not know how to write nor read). Apparently, illiteracy is a depriving factor towards opportunities and seeking other forms of livelihood. In fact, it dictates jobs done by the illiterate individuals. Precisely, in some situations, illiterate people remain in the chains of illiteracy that force them to stick on the ancestral jobs thus limiting their flexibility to new job avenues. In many nations, it is a major contributor to the social issue (Banerjee 25).

Increased unemployment cases as well lead to poverty among people. With the growing population, competition is increasing. Additionally, employment opportunities are becoming more dynamic. In comparison with the population, these opportunities are insufficient. Thereby, while striving to maintain their tasks, large population receive poor remunerations from their tasks, which consist of a pay below the minimum pay . More so, among other people, they rarely get employment opportunities and hence do not have income sources. Conversely, it leads to poverty conditions (Orleck 88).

Poor government policies, on the other hand, contribute to the broadening gap in social classes in the society. Surprisingly, these policies facilitate inequality in community resource sharing thus widening the gap. Community support services developed for dealing with poverty such as the provision of relief food on the poor communities does not meet its stipulated objective due to fraud and corruption. Hence contributing to prevailed poverty states (Healey 12).

Natural factors such as famine contribute to poverty states in different nations. More a third of the global population rely on agricultural activities for their livelihood. Normally, these activities face negative drawbacks due to inconsistency in climatic conditions. Uncertainty of these conditions leads to collapse of agriculture. Thus, it leads to a decrease in farm produce. Families relying on sale of these products experience adverse negative effects of reduced income generation. Individuals with limited options remain stranded on other sources leading to desperation thus starving (Banerjee 71).

Poverty dimensions changes from time-to-time. In addition, it differs depending on place (urban and rural poverty). Urban poverty causes differ from rural poverty. However, these aspects of rural and urban poverty interrelate. Presumably, the main cause of poverty in the urban areas is due to the predominance of rural peasantry factors that force individuals from the rural areas making them to migrate to urban areas aiming at finding a better livelihood. During the migration process, these people lose their space while searching for food and other basic amenities (Brady 67). Contrarily, while in the urban areas, these individuals get food easily. However, they experience a limitation to access of social amenities such as health. Thus, their situations in the urban areas compel them to remain below the poverty levels. Rural-urban migration remains prevalent in the current society and significantly contributes to poverty conditions. It is an unsolved issue facilitating poverty situations globally (Healey 55).

Plan of Action

Poverty is a serious social issue that require immediate responses by the involved governments. In response to the social calamity, it requires collaborative attitudes between the government and the citizens while helping individuals living below the poverty conditions. Acting as a government consultant, implementation of an integrative program will aid while handling the social issue. The integrative approach requires participation of the government in enacting laws and implementing them, companies and as well citizens. Its plan of action is as follows;

Promotion of balanced jobs both in the rural and urban areas (Healey 33). Unemployment, a primary driver of poverty, require a strategic approach that will ensure there is equality in resource sharing. Through government investments and reform, there will be the creation of millions of jobs . Seemingly, it will enable workers to earn good incomes while in diversified areas (Orleck 45). The second integrative measure will be a minimum wage control. As depicted, many workers receive poor pay rates from their managers due to lack of implemented policies governing corporate remuneration strategies. Therefore, through raising workers’ wages, there will be a reduction in the number of people in the poverty condition.

Family measures, which will include strengthening of families and investing in children, will be the last sections of the integrative response to poverty. Children investing will be through promoted education in schools. Introduction of hand-on-skills courses will facilitate in the curbing of the social condition (Brady 59). Lastly, family strengthening policies, focused on empowering of family members towards access to social services, will promote equality in resource sharing. At a family level, poverty requires implementation of certain measures that increase responsibility of parents over their children (Lötter 45).

poverty research paper

Comparison with an already implemented policy

Rural Development Programs developed by the United States, focused on improving the living conditions in the rural regions focused on providing rural households with the credits of purchasing income-generating assets that improved their livelihood. It is similar to the action plan stipulated above as it targets rural population living below the poverty line. These projects anticipate at increasing the income of rural populations and as well promoting their local activities (Brady 26).

Nevertheless, these policies are different. The stipulated action plan while acting as a consultant targets at increasing government investments in these regions. Through these investments, many people will benefit and will have an increased income from the created jobs. In addition, the implemented government approach does not facilitate family strengthening measures. Thus, it does not offer solutions to the future generations. It is in contrast with the action plan that will implement strategies in schools that will offer students with relevant skills that increase their adaptability in the society (Lötter 61).

There is a strong belief that the stipulated action plan will be more effective unlike prior measures by the government (Brady 33). In its approach, it does not only look at the current causes of poverty but also possible avenues that may lead to poverty. Conversely, it offers solutions to both the present and future generations. In addition, with an integrative approach, the government will focus on promoting effective measures that directly help the population through its investments. It is unlike credit allowances of purchasing assets that may lead to corruption cases in the society (Banerjee 62).

In conclusion, poverty is among the present social issues facing many people globally. Its accelerating rate is alarming and raises concerns over the role of government in facilitating its prevalence. While responding to the social issue, community awareness and participation can significantly make a difference. Individuals involved in alleviating the condition need to be accountable for their actions. Among government officials, there is a need for maintaining transparency and accountability. Through the action plan on poverty, the condition will drastically reduce among the future generations.

Reference Brady, David. Poverty. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Internet resource. Banerjee, Abhijit V, and Esther Duflo. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. New York: PublicAffairs, 2011. Print. Lötter, H P. P. Poverty, Ethics and Justice. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2011. Internet resource. Healey, Justin. Poverty and Social Exclusion. Thirroul, N.S.W: Spinney Press, 2011. Internet resource. Orleck, Annelise, and Lisa G. Hazirjian. The War on Poverty: A New Grassroots History, 1964-1980. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011. Internet resource.

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poverty measures essay outline

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Writing an Essay on Poverty

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poverty measures essay outline

Poverty was and is one of the biggest vices of society. This phenomenon is dangerous not only for poor strata but also for any other social class, as it leads to crimes and political unrest. Person from low-income background cannot fully participate in the life of society, losing their potential.

One of the biggest evils of poverty is that it can be hereditary, meaning that the child from a poor family has no access to all the privileges of life and fewer chances to succeed.  That is why it is very important for students and novice writers to talk about this issue in essays and research papers. If you are ready to make a contribution to raising awareness of poverty, read our article to find out the best tips and tricks for writing a high-quality paper as well as useful information on the topic.

Poverty essay topics

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How to write an essay on poverty?

An essay is a relatively free form of writing as here you are allowed to express your opinion (unless instructed otherwise). However, how to write the paper that stands out from other students’ works? Follow these tips to craft a really outstanding essay:

Poverty essay outline

As you may know, having structured the text, you would never miss any important parts or points when writing. Let’s consider all the essential sections of any essay:

What type of paper should I choose to write about poverty?

You’ve probably already written various types of academic assignments during your studies. But what kind of writing you can choose for your poverty paper? Here are some of our suggestions:

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Poverty research paper topics

Choosing a research topic on poverty from the list below, be sure to narrow the focus down to specific countries, correlations, population samples, historical periods, or organizations:

How to write a research paper on poverty

It is not a secret that writing a poverty research paper is even more challenging than working on a regular essay as it presupposes making more research and taking a more scientific approach in general. Therefore, it is important that you create a plan on how to approach this assignment if you are given one, and we are here to help you do it.

Poverty research paper outline

Here is a basic research paper outline:

Sticking to this outline and adding more details to it as you research, you will create an A+ research paper!

Best poverty research tips

Finally, as promised, here are the best research paper writing tips:

Research questions about poverty

Any research should be based on some questions, which can serve as a basis for a whole paper. Here are some interesting questions which may inspire you to do more research:

Causes of poverty

First of all, let’s generalize the causes of this phenomenon. Poverty is a consequence of various and interrelated causes:

There might be a lot of talks on this topic, as different people have different theories of why poverty still exists. However, some reasons are rather hard to argue about, and we will focus on them in the sections below.

Lack of education

You might not think of this reason as a major cause of poverty. However, it is a huge problem nowadays, causing people to get the lowest pay that they can possibly get. It’s a fact that poorly educated people have limited opportunities to succeed in a dynamic work environment. The problem is that low-income families usually spend a fairly small percentage of their income on the education of their children. As a result, the next generation continues to struggle with poverty and has no resources for personal development.

Lack of natural resources

We all know that many countries totally depend on their natural resources. The growing consumption and depletion of resources lead not only to critical and partially irreparable damage to the environment but also to higher prices in the market. This rise in price affects manufacturing enterprises that consume a lot of energy and raw materials. For this reason, global competitiveness is fundamentally dependent on the efficient and economical use of resources, alternative energy sources, and raw materials.

According to analysts from the World Economic Forum and PwC, the shortage of natural resources directly affects half of the world economy. In addition, a lack of resources leads to conflicts between countries, which only exacerbates poverty.

High unemployment level

Unemployment is a serious problem in many countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. In 2020, according to the International Labor Organization, there are 400 million unemployed in the world (10.7% of the world’s population). High unemployment level leads to mass poverty, lower wages, as well as social and political instability.

Unemployment is the leading cause of poverty in the United States. In 1999 and 2005, 71% of families below the poverty line had no working family members. In 2020, the level of unemployment in the United States reached 14.7%, which is considered the highest since the Great Depression.

According to the World Bank, in 2015, about 734 million people (10% of the world’s population) lived on less than $ 1.90 a day. The aforementioned progress will be reversed by the global pandemic crisis, which significantly affected national, regional, and global economies. There are no doubts now that the impact of COVID-19 will affect all countries. Thus, the World Bank estimates that in 2020, more 40-60 million people worldwide will be living on less than $ 1.90 a day.

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Shocking statistics for papers on poverty

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poverty measures essay outline

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  1. How Poverty in the United States Is Measured and Why It ...

    Families are classified as being in “deep poverty” if their income falls below 50% of the poverty guidelines ($13,123 for a family of four). 11. In 2020, 17.9 million people fell below 50% of the poverty threshold (5.5% of the population), and 89.7 million people lived below the 200% poverty threshold (27.5% of the population). 12.

  2. How is poverty measured?

    How is poverty measured? Poverty is measured in the United States by comparing a person’s or family’s income to a set poverty threshold or minimum amount of income needed to cover basic needs. People whose income falls under their threshold are considered poor. The U.S. Census Bureau is the government agency in charge of measuring poverty.

  3. Measuring Poverty Overview

    Measuring Poverty. The World Bank Group’s mission is to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. In order to monitor progress and understand the types of poverty reduction strategies that could work, it is important to measure poverty regularly. The international poverty line is set at $2.15 per person per day using 2017 prices.

  4. Poverty Essay Example & Outline

    Poverty is a state of privation or lack of usual socially accepted amount of basic needs or money to meet one's daily wants. The U.S government has set the poverty threshold that defines poverty among youths as the lack of necessary goods and services commonly termed back the mainstream based society as a basic.

  5. Essay On Poverty : Information You Should Take Into Account

    Poverty was and is one of the biggest vices of society. This phenomenon is dangerous not only for poor strata but also for any other social class, as it leads to crimes and political unrest. Person from low-income background cannot fully participate in the life of society, losing their potential.