What does 'poverty' mean?

Key facts about world poverty.Key facts about world poverty (UN, 2012)

Poverty can be defined in different ways, mostly depending on where you live in the world.

Relative poverty relates to what a particular society considers to be poor, eg someone in the UK might be considered to be relatively poor if they live on less than the average UK income.

Absolute poverty is when someone does not have access to basic human needs such as water, clothing, education and shelter. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die worldwide each day due to absolute poverty.

Where you live makes a difference

Most poverty is found in less economically developed countries (LEDCs). These countries are non-industrialised, eg Afghanistan and Sudan. People living in these countries are more likely to have high rates of child mortality, poor life expectancy, inadequate housing and poor educational standards.

Those who live in more economically developed countries (MEDCs), eg the UK, USA and Canada, often have a much better chance of living in relative wealth. These countries have a more developed economy and have a greater income due to their technological and industrial abilities.


What does the term 'absolute poverty' mean?

Absolute poverty refers to a state of deprivation, where a person has so little money they cannot meet their basic human needs.