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What Is Generational Poverty?

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Updated 7:45 pm

My parents were poor. I am poor. My children will be poor.

Generational Poverty means staying impoverished for two or more generations. Poverty is not an incurable disease, yet it is passed down to one generation after another. This is usually called the Cycle of Poverty, where everything begins once again after it is finished, persisting in a whole family’s tree for years.

Table of Contents

What Causes Generational Poverty?

When nothing changes after many generations—families live in poor conditions, children don’t go to school, adults cannot afford daily expenses—there must be some deep-rooted causes for this problem. Below are the top 3 most critical culprits of Generational Poverty:

1. Lack of Education

As discussed in many of our blogs, education holds a significant power that indicates a household’s well-being and wealth; therefore, lacking appropriate knowledge and skills is the foremost reason why so many families don’t have the caliber to escape impoverishment.

For example, literacy, an extremely essential skill that one should acquire to perform jobs of higher pay, is still absent in many families of remote and challenging regions. According to UNESCO, “about 124 million children today do not go to primary and lower-secondary school. Almost 2 in 5 who do finish primary school have not learned how to read, write or do simple arithmetic.”

2. Lack of Resources

This is an apparent cause of Poverty. When parents lack financial resources, they lose several means to live independently and raise their families. Because parents are the closet role model for youngsters, disadvantageous influences can spread to the children: poor nutritious eating habits, a lack of confidence, and optimism.

This behavior is also a part of “the scarcity mindset”—a mental shift due to the perception of scarce resources—which traps people in a cycle of insecure thinking and struggle to obtain short-term goals.

The shortfall of available resources might come from the surrounding environment. Families living in underserved areas might face difficulties that inhibit their source of generating income.

3. Lack of Determination

Whereas the last two factors are external reasons, this last point refers to an internal trait determining why Poverty persists for generations. Individuals experiencing Generational Poverty are generally devoid of determination and possess a quite pessimistic and passive mindset in fighting Poverty.

“Destiny is what every human being creates for oneself. Fate is when you fail to create your own destiny.”

Jaggi Vasudev

Being poor doesn’t equate to being unintelligent. In a hazardous situation, a person’s resilience to strive for the better – better income, better living conditions, better health – is challenged. Each individual is responsible for their life and how they want to live; therefore, if a family continues to live in Poverty, members of the house might choose not to work harder.

Nevertheless, people’s mindsets may be pushed into a state of hopelessness and devastation because of stress and external factors. A researcher conducted in 2017 proved that Poverty could impede cognitive function: concerns over Poverty and finance reduce mental sources, leading to a manifestation of counterproductive behaviors such as less efficient employees, insensitive parents, and poor financial management.

How Can We Solve Generational Poverty

In Project Sprouts’ Blogs, we have emphasized that “Education can change people’s lives many times.” Education can spark changes and help individuals find hope and meaning to escape extreme poverty.

With regard to growing in determination, it is crucial to remind oneself of their aspiration and long-term commitment to fighting against Generational Poverty.

Many examples of scholarship-winning students come from highly impoverished and uneducated families. They are real-life demonstrations of overcoming obstacles to gain a brighter future.

Tran Thi Dieu Lien is a Vietnamese student who proudly won the scholarship of 320.000 USD for her 4-year studying at Harvard University. Despite being the daughter of a poor janitor and an advertisement billboard marker, Dieu Lien has diligently studied hard to reach her aim.

Dieu Lien is revered for her perseverance and intelligence, and those traits were also partly formed earlier by her parents. She said in one interview: “The most valuable lesson my father taught me was staying independent and making decisions on your own.”

Con gái cô lao công đạt học bổng 7 tỉ Harvard: Học cũng như tập thể dục, nếu muốn, điều kiện nào cũng tập được! - Ảnh 1.
Tran Thi Dieu Lien and her mother. Tran Thi Dieu Lien is a Vietnamese student who won a 4-year scholarship (320.000 USD) from Harvard University. Image by Kenh 14 News

Dieu Lien’s parents have a difficult life, but they have educated and modestly raised their children. Both Dieu Lien’s determination and her parents’ positive influences led her to success.

At Project Sprouts, we realize that we can not solve all the problems of Poverty in a situation like this. But we can seek to make a difference in the lives of needy children by giving them school supplies and encouraging them to continue their education; we can give them winter coats, boots, and blankets to help them stay warm during the cold winter months.

Project Sprouts would love to have you be a part of our community and help us help worthy children in North Vietnam. We cannot solve all the world’s problems, but we can do our part to help poor kids grow by giving school supplies, winter coats, boots, and other supplies.

You can find out more about Project Sprouts by clicking here or going to our give now page to donate by clicking here. As we are a grassroots organization, all funds go to help those in need.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is generational poverty?

Generational poverty refers to families living in poverty for at least two generations. It can be deeply entrenched, with its own set of beliefs, values, and norms which can make it difficult to break the cycle.

What are the causes of generational poverty?

Causes may include lack of education, limited access to job opportunities, inadequate healthcare, systemic discrimination, and a lack of social mobility.

How is generational poverty different from situational poverty?

Situational poverty is generally caused by a sudden crisis or loss and is usually temporary. Generational poverty, on the other hand, occurs over two or more generations and can be a persistent, long-term issue.

What are the effects of generational poverty on children?

Children in generational poverty may suffer from poor nutrition, inadequate healthcare, low quality of education, and limited access to opportunities. This could affect their development, academic achievement, and future economic prospects.

How can generational poverty be addressed?

Solutions include quality education, access to healthcare, job training programs, affordable housing, and policies to address systemic discrimination and increase social mobility.

How does education play a role in breaking the cycle of generational poverty?

Education equips individuals with skills and knowledge to access better job opportunities. It can provide a pathway out of poverty and help break the cycle across generations.

What role does government policy play in addressing generational poverty?

Government policies play a critical role in providing safety nets and promoting equal opportunities for education, healthcare, and employment, which are crucial for breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

Can generational poverty be perpetuated by culture?

The cycle of generational poverty can be influenced by cultural factors, such as attitudes towards education, work, and money, which can be passed down from generation to generation.

Related Content:

How Can Education Help Fight Poverty?

The United Nations’ 4th Sustainable Development Goal – Quality Education has emphasized the importance of education in combating not only Poverty but also other societal issues.

Learning how education can support impoverished people will help you understand why the world needs education and what the mission of Project Sprouts is

You can read more by reading How Can Education Help Fight Poverty? by clicking here.

3 Reasons Why Vietnamese Ethnic Minority Are Poor

According to the World Bank’s statistics, the poverty rate in Vietnam has declined dramatically from around 70 percent to below 6 percent since 2002.

However, the unsolvable issue with Poverty in Vietnam is that more than 70% of the impoverished population comes from Ethnic minorities (measured using Vietnam’s poverty line). Despite several solutions and policies, Ethnic Poverty is strongly persistent in Vietnam: poor children have to leave school, adults struggle to be employed.

Why Is This The Case? What are the causes of Ethnic Poverty?

You can read more by reading by 3 Reasons Why Vietnamese Ethnic Minority Are Poor by clicking here.

James Johnstone
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