Absolute and Relative Poverty

November 17, 2011 § 2 Comments


The difference between absolute and relative poverty is explained in the link above and is also touched on by Ashis Nandy in “The Beautiful Expanding Future of Poverty”. Nandy points out that destitution and relative poverty are entirely different, but that most institutions and experts on poverty shy away from explaining it. Destitution, or absolute poverty, is when one is without the basic necessities that sustain one’s life. In comparison, relative poverty is when one is receiving an income that is below the national or international income average. As such, one can live in poverty but still sustain oneself through a low-consuming lifestyle but one that lives in destitution cannot get food, water, shelter, clothing, and other basic needs. Both the article and the reading point out one interesting fact: those that live in developing countries live about just as long as their richer counterparts, who consume ten times more than they do. It brings up the notion that poverty cannot be determined with a single characteristic (money), but it should be determined by multiple characteristics, and that if there is any hope in successful development, we must focus on the destitute (those who are truly suffering) first.


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You are currently reading Absolute and Relative Poverty at POLS306: The History and Politics of Development.


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