Poverty has always been a contentious subject and as a result there is no single definition for poverty, each individual you meet will have their own opinion on what poverty is and whether or not it is a big part of our society today. There seems to be a lack of understanding of the word itself and what it actually means. The word poverty has all sorts of negative images and ideas associated with it, nobody wants to be seen as living in poverty even when they are. This again is due to a lack of understanding on the subject. In one study in America, a survey showed that 43% of the people surveyed, thought that poverty existed as a result of a lack of effort. (Schiller, 2001) This survey alone proves how difficult it is to define poverty and from this it is safe to say that there won’t ever be a clear cut definition of poverty but that there will always be a constant struggle to find a solution for it. By the end of this essay I hope to have analysed different definitions of poverty, looked at some of the many methods of measuring and addressing it and finishing on finding out what is relevant to modern day Ireland and how that can be used to help fight against poverty in Ireland today.
Defining Poverty: Absolute and Relative
Poverty can be divided into two main types when it comes to defining it, Absolute Poverty and Relative Poverty. (Taylor, October 6, 2013) Absolute Poverty is not really relevant to Ireland today, it suggests that the people in absolute poverty are struggling to stay alive. (Taylor, October 6, 2013) Absolute poverty is most common in developing countries such as Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic although it does exist in small sections of the Irish society today, for example the case of the Roma Gypsies who were living in a roundabout in Ballymun in 2007. (Ring, July 26, 2007) In the article Ring describes them as being ‘worn down and worn out as they left their filthy encampment in Dublin on an M50 roundabout.’ Even the Pavee Point representative Michael Collins described their conditions as being ‘too harsh’ and said that they were just ‘worn down, tired and hungry’ (Ring, July 26, 2007) These descriptions would most definitely suggest that the gypsies were living in Absolute Poverty but this is a very uncommon scenario in Ireland as Relative Poverty is much more common. The most common and sadly very widespread form of poverty in Ireland today is Relative Poverty. It is quite hard to tell whether or not somebody is living in Relative Poverty as it is nowhere near as obvious as Absolute Poverty. Relative Poverty is when someone is below the generally accepted standard of living in a country which in turn leads to social and economic exclusion from general society. (Taylor, October 6, 2013) Without social welfare payments, half of the country (50.7%) would be at risk of poverty in Ireland today. (Office, 2013) This shows how prevalent Relative Poverty is in Ireland as these people would not be able to survive without the social welfare payments that they are receiving. Relative Poverty will vary from country to country depending on the standard of living of the majority, for example, what would be regarded as poor in Ireland might be regarded as wealthy in a developing country such as Haiti, which is currently number 20 in the list of the world’s poorest countries. (Said, 3 September, 2013) There have been many debates on how exactly we measure this poverty best but I hope that in the next section that I will be able to successfully analyse some of the methods and how they are implemented. Measuring Poverty
Measuring poverty can prove to be quite a difficult task, especially in the case of the far less obvious issue of Relative Poverty. I personally feel it is necessary to use a multidimensional approach to measure the level of Relative or Consistent Poverty in Ireland today. There are many debates as to how we should measure poverty. Should we...
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