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Poverty cycle theory

The poverty cycle theory suggests that poverty is transferred from generation to generation, due to a cyclical effect of poverty: poor parent give their children less possibilities in life, like inferior education inferior health services, and inferior social connections, which ultimately leads to less success in the work place and less potential for a successful business career, which leads to an inferior income and poverty, and the child of the child becomes also poor, completing the cycle.

Links to the community

Breaking the cycle

Links to the community

Some theories suggest that the poverty cycle is linked to the community to which an individual lives. If an individual lives In a poor community, his chances of breaking the poverty cycle are even lower, statistically speaking. When we examine this fact qualitatively, the reason for this might be that the entire community is being discriminated, in the education system, the health system, and so on, which leads to the start of the cycle, and can make it difficult to break out of the cycle.[1]

Breaking the cycle

Some suggest there are effective ways to break the poverty cycle, for example improving the education of poor people and poor communities, so that they can have better opportunities in the job market, and thus breaking the cycle. This improvement of the education for the poor can be done only by the government, which has the means to make it happened, and the ability to enforce it. [2]

Another possibility for breaking the poverty cycle is through Affirmative action. Affirmative action is a deliberate manipulative action, done by the government, to better the position of poor people, in many systems, such as the work force, the health system and the education system. Affirmative action can be for example setting a minimum number of jobs that must be fulfilled by the poor or by minorities, in order to give them a better chance of improving their lives. Or for example setting a subsidy for financing the healthcare of the poor or minorities, an example for this can be the Obama care.[3]

 Breaking the poverty cycle is important not only for the poor themselves, but also for the entire community, a more equal society can mean a more sustainable development for the entire community. A society that wants to prosper must take care of the weak segments in society, not only for the rich. When the poor sees that society helps them get out of the poverty cycle, they will give back to society, and improve the general well being of society.[4]


[1] Bradshaw, T. K. (2007). Theories of poverty and anti-poverty programs in community development. Community Development38(1), 7-25.

[2] Noguera, P. A. (2011). A broader and bolder approach uses education to break the cycle of poverty. Phi Delta Kappan93(3), 8-14.

[3] Chaves, M. J. (2019). Affirmative Actions or Transformative Interventions for Rural Poverty Reduction in Colombia? Dilemmas and Opportunities.

[4] Pick, S., de Weiss, S. P., & Sirkin, J. (2010). Breaking the poverty cycle: The human basis for sustainable development. Oxford University Press, USA.


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