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The psychology of poverty

The psychology of poverty

June 22, 2016
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Poverty is a situation that affects more than 2 billion people in the world, it’s an economic problem defined as a condition where people’s basic needs for food, clothing and shelter are not being met. There is also something else you need to understand about this problem, is that it also affects people in a psychological way.

There are many factors that cause poverty, but the effects are devastating. Some of those are lack of education, hunger, bad health, among others. Other effects are depression, serious mental illness and losing the ability of making decisions on finances. We are not stating that this happens to every person that lives in poverty conditions, but according to science in some cases it may occur.

So let’s start analyzing the psychology of poverty


Who is poor?

The United Nations defines a person who lives in poverty conditions as someone who cannot obtain adequate resources like enough food or money, to support a minimum level of physical health. When that person is relatively poor, he or she do not enjoy a certain minimum level of living standards like safety or a having a home.


What poverty does to the brain?

Poverty reduces cognitive capacity because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks. It imposes a big massive intellectual load on people that they have little bandwidth left over to do other things like  searching for a new job or remembering what they study (if they do). At an I.Q level, experts state that poverty’s mental burden equals losing 13 points, something like losing a night’s sleep.

It affects things like the memory, the ability to focus on tasks, decision making, patience and awareness. That is not all, poverty causes a type of depression on most people, it not an extreme sadness, it is settling for their poorness, for example, a man who doesn’t have a job, didn’t finish school and has a big family; has many things to worry about, but if you ever meet someone with this conditions, you will realize how sad that person is, it’s like he already stopped fighting to overcome his situation.

Poor people usually feel more stress than people who has a money tranquility, they feel tense at work or over work, they have a lot of expenses on health, transportation and food, but not enough incomes; usually suffer health problems like recurrent flu or poor nutrition and sleep deprivation, that is because they are extremely worried with surviving the actual world.

In most places, poor people suffer discrimination, and that affects their self-teem, making them feel left out of society and insecure. And even more, when poor people are children their ability to concentrate reduces even more, that is because on their first years of life their diet lacks of the necessary nutrients, causing diseases like anemia among others.


Poverty facts

- Almost 45% of the world’s poor population are children.

- 1 in every 7 persons go to sleep hungry and suffer malnutrition.

- 1 in 3 children live with an adequate shelter.

- 20% of the world population live without safe water.

- Most poor women become child brides at a very young age, and also become mothers    being teenagers.

- 22,000 children die every day because of poverty in the world.

- 775,000,000 people are illiterate in the world. 

- In a small country like Guatemala, 57% of the population lives in poverty conditions.


Poverty is a serious matter that affects too many people in the world, it is very important that you understand its effects and causes, so you can make a change in the world and contribute to its eradication.

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