Root Causes & Systemic Barriers

In the Poverty 101 Module III - Root Causes & Systemic Barriers of poverty we will explore the root causes of poverty, beyond individual choices, and the impact the crisis of poverty has on individuals, families and communities.

Don't forget to download/print the Poverty 101 Study Guide. Follow along on pages 21 - 26.

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Module IV Key Concepts - Root Causes of Poverty

  • Behaviors of the Individual: People make choices that can lead to instability and poverty. For example: the choice to drop out of high school often leads to low-wage jobs and sometimes poverty. Having a disability or chronic disease can lead to poverty also. The most common area of focus among service organizations is this first one …. behaviors of the individual. But just focusing on behaviors is not enough. We also must address the other three areas. Getting curious and looking for the need behind behavior is a great first step for creating resilience.

  • Human & Social Capital of the community / Community Conditions: In communities where you have a FAIR SHOT at well-paying jobs, a good education, good healthcare, and fair credit, pulling out of poverty may be easier. A “fair shot” means access to those four things. It also means support along the way in the form of transportation, affordable childcare and affordable housing. The combination of those things add up to true opportunity.

  • Exploitation/Predators: Predators provide a concrete and immediate solution to specific problems. Predators know that most people will not read the fine print. And even if they did, where else would they go? The predator is usually the last resort, and individuals feel relieved that the loan will take care of the immediate challenge. Additionally, predators keep paperwork to a minimum and are not intrusive (like many social services are) which feels respectful.

  • Political and economic structures, social policies and systems at all levels: Systemic changes are the most complex and hardest to address. It’s much easier to focus on individual behaviors and place blame on persons in poverty than it is to address all the causes of poverty, including political/economic structures.

Understanding these causes and changing our perspective and approach are necessary for creating resilience in the individuals we serve.

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