Poverty is a state of living wherein a person or a group of people lack access to financial services to have a minimum standard of living and lack of basic facilities like food, clothing and shelter. The word poverty comes from French word “poverté” which means poor. Poverty is not the same in every country and are not used everywhere in the same context because it may have occurred due to social or economic or political factors. Now let us discuss the three main types of poverty:

ABSOLUTE POVERTY: Absolute poverty is a situation in which a household has a very meagre income that they cannot afford to have access to basic facilities like food, shelter, housing, education, sanitation and health etc.

RELATIVE POVERTY: This type of poverty generally comes as a comparison of social status. This type of poverty arises with the inability to buy or upgrade the luxurious goods. Relative poverty can be seen generally in developed countries like the Unites States.

CHRONIC POVERTY: This type of poverty can be experienced by people for very long period of time or even their whole life. Chronic poverty is one that can sometimes be prevailing on for generations.


Various tools have come into use to estimate the poverty in a country.

In India, poverty line, income and consumptions are the indicators of measuring poverty. Poverty line refers to the amount of expenditure incurred for purchasing consumer commodities. In India, the poverty line is defined on the basis of calorie intake.


Now comes the question, why is urban calorie intake lower than rural areas?

It is a known fact that the main occupation in rural areas is agriculture and thus due to a comparatively high physical activity, there is also an equivalent high calorie intake by rural people than urban people.

In 2017, an estimated 9.2 percent of the global population still lived below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day, which is based on poverty lines in some of the poorest economies in the world. Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, there is an increase in the number of poor worldwide by 120 million and is expected to increase further by the end of the pandemic.

IMPORTANCE OF POVERTY MEASUREMENT: Poverty measurement is very important mainly for the government to understand if the benefits reach the poor and to allocate funds, formulate strategies and policies to improve their standard of living.


Though there are many causes to poverty, some are listed below:

  • UNEMPLOYMENT- Poverty and unemployment are interrelated. Poverty leads to unemployment and vice versa. Due to lack of financial resources the bread winner of the family is not able to support his family even with basic facilities.
  • CLIMATIC CHANGES- As per the World Bank, the climatic change has the power to impoverish about 100 million in the next decade. Nothing can stand nature’s fury and natural disasters like floods, drought, tsunamic etc. can pull down a country’s economy making many people poor and famished.
  • WAR SITUATIONS- Political conditions like pre and post war situations can also poverty. The country’s income would be mostly spent on the weapons to safeguard the country and people but people cannot escape the inside war (hunger) as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country suffers.
  • LACK OF ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION- Currently, almost 2 billion people don’t have access to clean water. Contaminated water can lead to water borne diseases which can be chronic and life threatening.
  • LACK OF EDUCATION- Another reason for poverty is lack of education. Education helps people in getting out of poverty by getting a job. As the flow of income increase, it slowly increases the standard of living of the household and jumps out of poverty.

Relevant links: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~dludden/Mowafi_Poverty_Measurement_Debate.pdf