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Poverty and The Poor


I had doubts about my masters program before I started it, I was afraid that wouldn't enjoy it. See, through out my secondary school days and University, most of the courses I took was because my parents thought so or I had no choice in the matter. So having a huge choice in my masters program, was a big deal to me. Turns out I chose wisely.


I discovered a man named Rowntree in one of the recommended articles by my lectures last week. Rowntree wrote a research paper on Poverty, using a quint village called York as his case study. The task according to my lecturer was to read Rowntree's thesis and answer questions with it. One of the question that stayed with me, was what, we thought about Rowntree's research, was it still applicable today?

What is Poverty?

According to Rowntree there are two types of poverty, Primary poverty and Secondary Poverty. You know that you belong in the Primary Poverty section, when you are unable to provide yourself with the minimum basic necessities of merely physical efficiency. And with the Secondary poverty, you know that you belong there when your total earnings would have been sufficient for the maintenance, of merely physical efficiency if you were not using a portion of it for some expenditure, either useful or wasteful.

Rowntree embarked on this thesis using several basic factors to determine the number of people living in either Primary and Secondary poverty in York. He used food, rent and household sundries. At the end it was determined that there were more people in York, leaving in Primary poverty than in Secondary poverty.


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Rowntree conducted his research in the year 1899 and published in 1901, one would have thought that between then and now, there would have been a vast difference in the concepts of poverty, there is not. Granted that there are more modern approach to the explanation to what poverty is, mostly including access to health care, education and even transportation. But basically its still the same thing.

Rowntree even noted that there are other sources of income that a person or family could acquire, mostly insignificant but worthy of note. He mentioned Charity, odd jobs and even money sent by a family member, relative or even a child staying and working abroad.

Poverty Line

The line of poverty drew by Rowntree in 1901, still persists. There are still a number of people leaving within those lines, and no amount of change, be it developmental or technological had been able to ease the ever growing population.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Akosua Ago Mansa

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