Poverty Development in the Modern Society


It has long been known that the social injustices of the world are closely interrelated. More than 1 million people survive on less than a dollar a day; while the same number does not have access to safe drinking water. Surprisingly, more than 40% of the world population does not have access to basic sanitation. These impoverished people understandably have the poorest health and highest mortality rates. The mere numbers are mind-boggling, given the strength of the overall world economy–apparently good for some but not for others. Poverty, gender inequality, illiteracy, and poor health are so interconnected that it is impossible to alter one without the others. That is why most public health endeavors require multi-factorial approaches. There is much to be done. There are things each of us can do to address the problem of poverty and human development, but one of them should not be to turn a blind eye to the plight of the world.

Yet despite the rhetoric and public gestures, there is a curious lack of urgency about this new anti-poverty agenda. It has a grim, forced quality about it, as if performed out of duty rather than optimism. The price tag on the new proposals is big enough, yet they themselves seem small-bore, a far cry from the grand designs and high hopes of the original “war on poverty.”


Human beings are central in development. Indeed, they provide the natural dynamic of economic and social processes. However, the associates of this organization, used for several years were known as the Catholic Economic Association, are most likely well-known with these quotations, as of every of the two current Encyclical Letters;

One must ensure the survival of monetary, monetary and societal instruments, which, although they are influenced by public, again and again work about mechanically, therefore stressing the state of capital for a few and scarcity for others. These instruments, which are plotted unswervingly or obliquely by the more urbanized nations, by their very performance goodwill the concern of the public maneuvering them. However, in the last part, they stifle or form the financial systems of the under developed nations. (Bouget, 105)

Moreover, Justice will by means exist abundantly consummate bar for public observe in the destitute life form, who is requesting for assistance so as to live alive, not an infuriation or a load, but a chance for viewing kindness and for bigger fortification… It is not merely a substance of ‘giving from one’s superfluous,’ other than lending a hand towards the public which is currently ruled out or marginalized to go into the field of monetary and human progress. On behalf of this to ensue, it is not sufficient to describe on the excess things, which actually our world plentifully fabricates; it needs on top of all a alteration of ways of life, of replicas of making and expenditure, and of the customary arrangements of authority, which these days rule the world. Nor is it a stuff of getting rid of instruments of social organization, which have showed constructive, also quite of adjusting them consistent with a sufficient conception of the ordinary thing regarding the entire human race. There is an escalating emotion that this rising internationalization of the financial system has to be escorted by effectual international charity, which will supervise and express the wealth to the ordinary thing, rather that an entity shape, though it were the main influential on earth, would not be in a place to perform. in line to attain this consequence, it is essential that there be amplified harmonization among the most modern nations, and that in global charities the wellbeing of the entire human race be evenly symbolized (Cuffaro, 1151).

Several surveys covering both the trends in economic progress in different countries and the field of development economics have appeared in the last few years. These include notably the annual World Development Reports and Human Development Reports as well as the two-volume Handbook of Development Economics. My purpose is to highlight some aspects of the trends in economic growth in the various nations and in the discussions in the field of development economics that have received relatively less attention than they deserve.

According to a survey by the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development, about 930 million people, or almost one of every six persons in the world, live in poverty in the developing countries. The number of rural women living in poverty in developing countries has increased 50 percent over the last twenty years. Rural women now constitute almost 60% of the 930 million poor people in the developing countries.

It is perhaps natural to view underdevelopment and poverty resulting there from as a failure to meet basic requirements of what may be called a “decent life.” But the concept of a decent life is both time-specific and place-specific. Although it is true that the very existence of physical life implies — in a nutritional, biological sense — basic needs or requirements, a modern concept of poverty has a much broader interpretation of deprivation. It is generally agreed that poverty can be interpreted in an absolute as well as a relative context. In the developed countries, economic progress has led to a gradual decrease, and almost disappearance, of absolute poverty as interpreted at the beginning of the twentieth century. (We should note parenthetically that during the past decade there has been a significant reversal in this trend.) While there has been a very high degree of variability in economic progress among different countries over time, it is unfortunately still true, as we noted earlier, that a significant proportion of the population in many countries lives under conditions of absolute poverty as interpreted in the early 1900s. Increased knowledge and awareness about living conditions in different societies brought about, among other things; by the telecommunication revolution has aroused expectations of poor, and not so poor, people everywhere. Thus, absolute and relative considerations have often been integrated in general macro-level discussions on poverty — both within a country and between countries — and underdevelopment in the international context. Development Economics has not progressed in a linear or smooth pattern. It has already had its ups and downs in its relatively short lifespan. It has been observed, “economic development is a field in search of itself” (Duffield, 2002, 1049). As a branch of positive economics, development economics views the process of economic development as one of raising the level of national income or standard of living or economic well being of the people by increasing the rate of capital formation. The effect or end product of the process is to change the level and the interrelationship of important economic variables in the economy. The field of development economics, like economic theory in general, offers a rigorous model (or models) about the economic system as a whole or about sectoral relationships within the economy. Development economists, like economic theorists, are not in the habit of asking questions such as: What are the limitations of the data or of the statistical methods being used? Are the topics being discussed so complex that methods and/or data are inappropriate? Much of development economics, like the bulk of economic theory, fails to go beyond rigorous theoretical and empirical analysis by incorporating the understanding that social institutions modify individual economic behavior and an individual country’s economic performance. An examination of the impact of social institutions on the macro-variables in an economy as well as on the behavior of micro-units is often not easy. And that might explain why such analysis is so rare. However, positivist development economists infrequently acknowledge the role or influence of social institutions. Just as many economists start out by assuming that economic agents are optimizing creatures and that economic theory consists mainly or even solely of analyzing implications of such optimizing behavior, a large part of positivist development economics would lead us to believe that differences in rates of capital accumulation, of chronological innovation and such, are the key to understanding differences in levels of development in different countries. Just as the concept of economic man — in this day and age, I should say, economic human being — can be interpreted as a sociological concept in the sense that social norms approve or even encourage decision in certain domains (but not others) on the basis of narrow self-interest, the process of economic development can be viewed as a multi-dimensional concept.

“The supreme of evils and the nastiest of crimes is poverty”. Sir George Bernard Shaw said this lexis in 1907. These days, soon after a century, his surveillance is righter than eternally, for it is alongside the background of today’s wealthy OECD nations that the prices of poverty appear both so bigger and culpable. Conventionally, administrations have attempted to hush the results of poverty by caring for the symptoms with revenue hold up. This has aided ease a few of the most awful symptoms of poverty, however at the charge of fainting individual aspiration and labor endeavor, and of staying poverty active. A more vigorous impend to public plan can assist to accomplish lasting decreases in poverty and prohibiting by serving receivers reverse on their base, to bear themselves and their families. However, Active social policies are planed to aid public defeat barriers for employment. They spotlight on enhanced amalgamating the overhauls on hand to help out profit receivers, and redefine the public affiliation amid customers and suppliers of communal sustain, through a joint compulsion to collaborate in the treatment course.

Poverty’s Roots

Find the way public discover themselves in poverty can be reasonably a riddle. Frequently the glide into scarcity is slow, yet hardly noticeable. George Orwell, in his work of fiction “Down and Out in Paris and London”, explains how he understands his poverty only when he was hocking his clothing. A few public abruptly befall deprived, by debit, family crash or the loss of a partner, for example. Further reasons comprise of unsatisfactory abilities or physical or psychological fitness crises. However the majority, having a job is the solitary mainly vital remedy to poverty, and acquiring public prepared and into job should be a main center of strategy.

The danger of little earnings for somebody breathing in an unemployed family is five times bigger than that in families where some constituents go to job. Moreover, Poverty is widespread among isolated parents. In actual fact, the relative poverty rate of single-parent families is three times upper than for families with children in general, but when the lone parent has a work, the danger of falling into poverty is very much reduced, as it is for pairs with kids. Modest doubts that those OECD nations where employment rates of mothers are highest also prove low rates of youngster scarcity.

The excellence of jobs also issues, certainly, above all as various kinds of service offer small fortification from poverty. Certainly, families with one or more workers account for up to two-thirds of the income-poor in the OECD region. This is a caution that strategy must tackle working poverty, as well. at the moment, nearly all OECD nations have put employment integration at the very heart of their struggle against poverty. Also, Active policies to obtain people reverse into the job souk, initially launched as welfare-to-work for the jobless, have been comprehensive to other, more disqualified crowds. They might comprise of a requirement to take part in labor market programmes, and may absorb economic fine. But, the same principles known as “mutual obligations” are discovering their method into disability agendas in addition.

The amount of public gaining some of the chief benefit cut down by more than half from their peak levels in the mid-1990s in the UK and the US, by a third or more in Canada and the Netherlands, and by a quarter in Finland. However, in the US, the majority of those off the advantage catalogs are running, often full-time, with near-average incomes. Also, a number of disability agendas, like the UK’s Pathways to Work pilots, show rather effectual too. And the improvements may not for all time have hack next of kin poverty by a great deal, but they have added to discontinue the hoary tendency towards superior disparity in the allocation of marketplace revenue that has influenced all OECD nations currently. However revenue is still element of receiving away from poverty, and throwaway wages is the solution tool to employ.

In Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Haiti, Rwanda and Somalia where food dearth have been complicated by the occurrence of severe political instability and civil unrest. It is likely, indeed, that poverty and hunger have been a factor in such unrest (Young 1998, 270). Rural areas of Kenya, notably the densely populated Western, Nyanza and Central Provinces, have small farms and no spare land, and real income per capita has declined since 1980. The terrible famines in Ethiopia in the 1980s will happen again, hopefully with an improved national relief service. In Sierra Leone, an Agricultural Officer during the 1950s made a recent return visit, reporting how a threefold increase in population has led to widespread replacement of former bush fallow by short-term scrub and grass-land, concluding that, ‘The over-riding constraint to the improvement of the standard of living for billions of people in the Developing World… is the persistent yearly increase in rural population’ (MacDonald 22). Food insecurity is endemic in much of the African semi-arid zone.

More usually, the limitation to development brought about by population exceeding food production capacity is applicable to rural areas in most of the world’s 75 LIFDCs, more particularly the least developed (i.e. poorest) among them, currently 49 countries of which 33 are in Africa. An interim review five years after the 1996 World Food Summit concluded that progress towards meeting the target of halving the number of hungry people by 2015/30 was (with the major exception of China) clearly behind schedule (FAO 2002). The World Food Program currently lists 35 countries with Emergency Operations (EMOPs), of which 25 are in Africa and six in Asia.

The circumstances of South Asia are very much distinctive. The Indian subcontinent in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries experienced recurrent famines, with deaths probably in excess of 20 million, the last being the Bengal famine of 1943-44. Since independence, there has been endemic hunger on a massive scale: FAO estimates for undernourishment are 275 million for India, Pakistan and Bangladesh combined. Relatively efficient national food relief measures, however, have prevented natural disasters (drought, flood) from leading to famine, in the sense of large-scale deaths from starvation.

Development and Poverty

The characteristics and scope of development have changed significantly in the past 20 years. One of the important consequences of the increasing dominance of neoliberal economic globalization and the globalization of (unfettered) capitalism is that development is increasingly becoming, conceptually and practically, a matter of ‘relief’, possibly too close to the goals of humanitarian intervention; a affinity that reinforces the already common ‘charity’3 aspect of development aid (Gasper, 221). Meanwhile, progress and social improvement are increasingly left to the forces of free markets led by neoliberal ideology and the self-interest of a global elite.

At the same time, powerful development actors such as the World Bank and donors state there goals for aid in terms of a rhetoric of socially sustainable and pro-poor development, often emphasizing local solutions and the strengthening of the poor’s entrepreneurship. Themes of empowerment and participation are now commonplace in mainstream development aid discourse. Such rhetoric serves to legitimize the neoliberal restructuring produced through aid.

Although a focus on poverty and the provision of social services through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and its targets is welcome, this has also been an opportunity to narrow the conception of development to a form of collective charity. At the same time, these strategies tend to put the burden of responsibility on individuals and local groups to cope with the negative effects of global socio-economic change. For example, certain preconditions for sustainable livelihoods or entrepreneurship require much more than access to small amounts of funds because of the immense influence of global finance capital or the dominance of agricultural businesses. At the same time, the rhetoric of global development actors and even many international NGOs fails miserably ‘to engage with the subtleties of structural conditions, comprising power and inequality, and the constraints they place on human agency.’ (Wood, 2)

There is now a propensity to target development aid money as a tool for providing social safety nets, while the traditionally core matter of increasing economic growth is reliant on countries being globalized. Raises in living standards are dependent on the privatization of social services and availability of private funds, through foreign direct investment and transnational corporations, regional transnational elites, or public–private partnerships—matters regulated and permitted by states. And as global institutions themselves work together increasingly with the private sector, they themselves may be in the process of becoming privatized. (Bull & McNeill, n.p.)

The system in which neoliberal economic globalization is determining development aid can be related to Cowen and Shenton’s (1996) depiction of premeditated development: as it seeks to impose order on the disruptive consequences of global dynamics, while legitimizing itself because aid aims to reduce poverty and help the vulnerable. The dominance of technocratic bureaucratic thinking in development aid (Boas & McNeill, 2003) reinforces the intentional aspects of development, while disrupting and often preventing what may be positive bottom up processes of social change (Hickey & Mohan, 36). At the same time, this specific meaning of development as technocratic, bureaucratic and intentional is in itself the main development ethics meets global justice justification for current neoliberal economic globalization. For example, according to the liberal economist Jagdish Bhagwati (2004), the world is already on the right track to reduce poverty and suffering. There is only one single ‘scientific’ view as regards economic development, it was argue ‘that trade enhances growth, and that growth reduces poverty’ (Bhagwati, 53). Development agents, he explains, would do best to keep themselves busy with questions of relief (and allow the free market to take care of the economy).

The belief that further neoliberal economic globalization is the sole source of increased living standards and that, at the most, we simply need to widen its scope so it benefits those so far left behind, overlaps in its entirety with what has been the most powerful myth of the past century: the image of development as securing affluence and fulfilling lives for all, an image driven by rationality and technological advance. (Goulet,n.p.) Whereas ‘modernization’ was the developmental myth of the second half of the twentieth century, globalization has emerged as the new developmental myth of the early twenty-first century. As Patoma¨ki argues in this volume, this myth constitutes also a dominant conception of global justice. At the same time, development is being discursively transformed into a tool for ‘helping out’ those left out of the presumed economic bonanza of free trade and liberalization, and the means for appeasing our conscience (or our sense of guilt). It thus tends to act as a legitimizing strategy for neoliberal restructuring.

Defenders of the ways in which the planet and its people are presently being globalized rely upon the ubiquitous claim amongst powerful development agencies that there is a positive relation between the main tenets of the Washington Consensus—or its more recent revisionist ‘post-Washington Consensus’ version and the reduction of global poverty. Often, the linkages between globalization and development are made through data on poverty reduction as one of the fundamental justifications for the well functioning of current globalization processes. Within this framing, development means something very specific: to follow the call for increasingly globalized markets and the privatization of social services; to prioritize economic concerns above anything else; to measure every aspect of social life with a monetary metric. ‘Globalization friendly’ policies are held to lead to more ‘development’, defenders argue, and the proof is often presented in the guise of poverty data, showing decreases in poverty over time as evidence of the fairness. Yet central questions about the forces that produce or cause poverty, and the possibility that global processes as presently constituted may have no need for attending to the poor—as the extreme poor are often neither producers nor consumers—remain undressed from this perspective.


The disagreements regarding the reliability of poverty data, where and how to look at the problems, and what to count as evidence, risks or costs, are neither coincidence nor mere scientific disagreements. They are also the result of complex sets of values, both moral and non-moral assumptions, part of diverse perceptions of social processes and underpinned by political ideologies that surround the construction of knowledge. The disagreements are related to views of human life and the possible futures, to the meanings attached to the notions of development and globalization, to what constitutes progress, descriptively and normatively?

Works Cited

Bhagwati, J. In Defense of Globalization (Oxford: Oxford University Press) 53, 2004.

Boas, M. & McNeill, D. (eds). Global Institutions and Development. Framing the World, RIPE Studies on Global Political Economy (London: Routledge), 2003.

Bouget, D. The Empirical and Social Relevance of Social Quality. (Chap.7), in Beck et al. 2001, pp.105-24, 2001.

Bull, B, & Mcneill, D. Market Multilateralism: Public Private Partnerships and Global Governance (New York & London: Routledge), 2006.

Cuffaro N. Population growth and agriculture in poor countries. A review of theoretical issues and empirical evidence World Development 25 1151-63,1997.

Duffield, M. Social reconstruction and the radicalization of development. Aid as a relation of global liberal governance, Development and Change, 33(5), pp. 1049–1071, 2002.

Goulet, D. On culture, religion, and development, in Mendell, M. (ed.) Reclaiming Democracy: The Social Justice and Political Economy of Gregory Baum and Kari Polanyi Levitt (Que´bec: McGill-Queen’s University Press) 2005.

Gasper, D. Securing humanity: situating ‘human security’ as concept and discourse, Journal of Human Development, 6(2), pp. 221–245, 2005

Hickey, S. & Mohan, G. Relocating participation within a radical politics of development: from practice to theory, Development and Change, 36(2), 2005.

MacDonald A S. Population and urbanization in a subsistence agriculture context Tropical Agriculture Association Newsletter 23 22-4, 2003.

Wood, G. Desperately seeking security. Pp 2,2000.

Young A. Land resources. Now and for the future Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Pp 270, 1998.

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