Consider two lives:
The first one is a girl, about 16, whose parents have just been laid off. Her family can no longer afford the house they were living in, which was located in a respectable neighborhood. They move out onto the streets, having gone through the trials of bankruptcy. Her father can’t handle it and abandons the girl and her mother. Her mother ends up struggling to support the two of them, and tries to find work where she can, making a menial income. The girl starts to fall behind in school, due to lack of sleep and food, while also trying to juggle jobs.
Now consider the same girl, but in a different situation. Her father receives a promotion, and her mother(working in the marketing industry), gets a hold of a very profitable project. Life continues to ride up, and they’ve moved from that respectable neighborhood to an even nicer one. Her days are spent hanging out with friends, shopping, maybe even taking some extra credit to boost her GPA above the 4.0.
Now, these two lives belong to the same person on two very different planes. But I have a few questions:
1. Is everyone at risk?
2. Is there a way to escape poverty?
3. Do people in poverty value things more?
To answer the first question, yes, I believe everyone is at risk. You could be less than a paycheck away from being out on the streets. Just a small drop in the economy, and you could be out of your house within a few weeks. It doesn’t take much. As seen in a European study, 24.5% of the population were ” at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This means that these people were in at least one of the following three conditions: at-risk-of-poverty after social transfers (income poverty), severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity.” And so sometimes, geographical locations can affect your future.
Is there a way to escape it? Escape implies being able to be free of it. I don’t really think that’s possible. Some people could be living in their own little world of poverty, maybe two Prada bags short of being good enough, or three meals away from hallucinations.
Do people in poverty value things more? I think so. Some may argue that your placement or lot in life doesn’t affect the worth of an object. And in some ways, that’s true. But just because the dollar amount doesn’t change, what about the worth to the individual? Some people adore oranges, others hate them. Some people insist on shopping at only the best stores that carry the best brands, and to some people brands don’t matter.
And so I have a question to the reader: Do you believe the risk is great? And if you were, or are, in a position to be labeled as poverty, would you(or do you) value things more.
Whelan, Christopher T. “Poverty in Ireland in Comparative European Perspective.” Social Indicators Research 95.1 (2010): 91-110. Web.