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Generational Poverty Essay

This week in class the focus has been on generational poverty. There are a lot of key factors that lead to poverty. Poverty does not exist because people want it to. Poverty is a way of life for those who don’t know another way and feel that they don’t have a way out. Every day in society people turn their heads or frown up their nose at people who they see living in poverty because they think they are better than them and will not lift a hand to help them out. The big question is why do we do this? In most cases, the poverty line or clash of the classes are based on wealth and there is certainly a variation in the wealth among the population. But classism exists from the beginning of education to death. Schools pass out grades and establish an intelligence stratification.

The better students take higher academic classes and separate themselves from students taking lower academic classes. College graduates typically achieve better incomes than non-college graduates and raise higher in wealth and stratification. Though it may seem unfair, typically those who achieve better grades are those individuals who apply themselves and try hard to get out of the situation that they are in if it is bad. Achieve is rewarded while sloth is not rewarded. Society works best this way, because it gives incentives for everyone to achieve, while not rewarding those who do not make and effort or better yet even try. Woman play a big role in the family when it comes to poverty. Most of the families are single parented. In this paper, I will be discuss what generational poverty is. Also I will discuss and identify the complex factors involved in overcoming generational poverty, explain challenges the aged face when there is a lack of access to employment and describe the unique challenges that women face through the different life stages. Lastly it will be explained how what I have learned changed my perspective and the way in which I approach special population. Generational Poverty

Generational poverty is defined as having been in poverty for at least two generations. It is important to recognize this time factor to be able to separate it from “situational poverty,” characteristically understood as a
lack of resources due to particular sets of events, i.e. a death, chronic illness, divorce, etc. from the discussion of generational poverty in this chapter. These two concepts are distinguishable, which will help us put our students’ behavior in better perspective. A key indicator in defining and separating these poverty types is “attitude.” In generational poverty, the players feel that society owes them a living whereas in situational, they often allow pride to keep them from accepting needed assistance. Generational poverty has its own culture, hidden rules and belief system. The video clips deal with the role of the “momma” as central to the family structure. She is the powerful one and the ultimate caregiver and rescuer.

Punishment in her mind is about forgiveness not about change and hers is the love and relationship that ties to the soul. In examining these distinguishing differences, our author gave a humorous case study of an actual court case. While the nature of the case is quite disturbing from the perspective of a middle class reader, behaviors become crystal clear and predictable. Identify the complex factors involved in overcoming generational poverty? There are four major complex factors involved in overcoming generational poverty. The first one is housing. Housing stability is critical to being successful in education, employment and parenting. If basic security needs, such as housing, cannot be met, it is unlikely, if not impossible that other achievements needed to break the cycle of poverty can be made. Housing quality can affect the cycle of poverty in many ways. For example, one who lives in substandard housing can be contributed to negative health outcomes and concentrated disadvantages such as bad business investments. If basic housing needs are not met, a positive environment for learning cannot be established, such as encouragement of completion of homework, having family reading places, or peer interactions.

The next factor is education. Education attainment is a major if not the most important key to breaking the cycle of generational poverty. Research has shown that growing up in a lower income family negatively impacts educational obtainment needed to break the cycle of poverty. Learned behavior within peer groups, families and neighborhoods can also contribute to the cycle of poverty. Those with minimal education tend to find themselves employed at low paying jobs with little or no benefits. In addition, financial literacy and training is an important educational
component that is needed to break the cycle of poverty. Employment is the third factor. There has been a significant decline in manufacturing jobs, which are typically high paying with good benefits. There is a growing mismatch with the skills of these displaced workers and available jobs. The loss of these manufacturing jobs has resulted in many folks going back to generational poverty. In a lot of cases, there are a growth of new jobs but these jobs tends to come with low pay and no benefits, which can further prevent breaking out of the cycle poverty. Also, multiple income based antipoverty programs can have a negative impact of work incentives. This is due to the fact these programs have to be funded with funds that could be used to pay workers to help them overcome poverty. The fourth complex factor is single parenting.

Explain challenges the aged face when there is a lack of access to employment.

Some challenges the aged are faced with due to lack of access to employment are: vulnerability to risk and shocks due to irregular and unstable income. They could also be suffer from deteriorating health, declining stamina, reduced physical ability, agility and strength, as well as decreased mobility due to lack of mobility and constant movement from working. Another challenge is high out-of-pocket health expenditures or lack of health insurance. Most aged people struggle to pay for basic medicines or treatment, which is often desperately needed to manage chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure. With lack of employment, comes a high level of stress and anxiety for the elderly. This would come about due to the constant worrying about how they will earn enough to buy food and other basic essentials, especially if they are supporting grandchildren or other family members who are sick.

Describe the unique challenges that women face through the different life stages.

Women face a lot of different challenges that they face through the different life stages. Women only have two choices. These choices are marrying men who will provide life time financial support so that they can prevent destitution later on in their lives. Also if a woman pursues a higher education so that they can establish a career and choose to marry and raise the family they might be able to prevent a lifetime of neediness and impoverishment. As a citizen or population, women majority of the time earn a lower income than their male counterparts. The Equal Pay Act that passed in the 1960s was supposed to narrow the earning gap between men and women, yet a gender pay gap still exists today. Even after accounting for possible explanations such as demographic characteristics, family situations, work hours, and work experience, women who work full-time year-round still are paid 77% of a man’s pay ($37,000 for a woman compared to $48,000 for a man in 2009) (U.S. Census Bureau 2012). After a woman has accumulated years in the workplace, it seems that the wage gap would shrink because of experience. This, however is not the case in this instance. Inequities start early and worsen over time. Research has shown a 5% difference one year after college graduation and a 12% difference after 10 years. The only identified explanation for the unexplained gaps was gender discrimination (Arnst 2007; Boushey, Aarons, and Smith 2010).

Has what you learned changed your perspective and the way you will approach the special populations discussed?

From watching the videos and doing the research I have learned that poverty can happen to anyone. Once you become a product or victim of poverty it is hard to become stirred away. Everything around you condemns you to a certain life style. There is really no one there to give you hope or guidance. As a child, you are obligated to help you parents raise income or money and if that means you leaving school then that is what you have to do. Not one single person will tell you to stay in school. The education level for those in poverty in simply does not exist. The community has their own language that if you were to go into the corporate world you would be dismissed because they don’t understand what you are saying to them. The parent don’t give the children any enthusiasm or guidance letting them know that your life can change they teach them to settle for what you have and know. As a child I was not raised to believe that you can do anything.
Your way of life is set by you the individual not anybody else. You change anything you want and if you fail the first time keep trying and never give up. It only takes a single person to help someone achieve their dreams and I plan to help as people as I can. As a single parent I live pay check to paycheck and can fall into poverty at any given time and I would want someone to help me so in return I will do that for others.


Jerry V. Diller, Cultural Diversity. A Primer for the Human Services, Fourth Edition, 2011

Arnst, C. 2007. “Women and the Pay Gap.” Bloomberg Businessweek. Accessed February 2013


Boushey, H., J. Aarons, and L. Smith. 2010. “Families Can’t Afford the Gender Wage Gap.” Center for American Progress. Accessed February 2013.


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