Living Below the Poverty Line Essay

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Individuals/Families below the Poverty Line Angela Valentine PSY 490- Social Science Capstones Instructor: Raqota Berger 5 March 2012 Poverty is an urgent problem that has existed for a very long time in the United States and many other countries. It undermines the dignity of men, women and children, and deprives them of human rights and leads to their marginalization. According to statistics, there are 15.1% of Americans living below the poverty line (Census Bureau, 2011). This percentage is the highest it’s been since 1993. Low-income families usually include three or more children, family members with low education levels, the unemployed, young people, students in universities that have not found work, and residents of small towns and rural settlements. Poverty thresholds vary according to the size of the family and ages of the family members. In 2010, poverty thresholds in the United States for people over 18 years old equaled $11,139 for one individual and $14,218 for a two person family (Census Bureau, 2010). The American economy includes the rich and excludes the poor in many ways. Low paying jobs keep the working poor impoverished. Someone working a full-time job, fifty two weeks a year at minimum wage would only earn $13, 624 a year, which is below the poverty line for two or more people (Lauer & Lauer, 2011). The kind of work that very poor people “access through their informal social networks is often low quality – poorly paid, insecure, offering little opportunity for progression” (Afridi, 2011, p.9). Two social issues that affect those living below the poverty line include social exclusion and the high probability of becoming victims of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Social exclusion is a term which incorporates the condition of social isolation and

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