Defining Poverty Essay

2362 words - 9 pages

When it comes to poverty, there is the magnitude of definitions explaining the term. The definition of poverty has important implications from point of view of policy making, politics and academic debates. Each view has its own value judgments and explanations. Over the times, new definitions have surfaced the debates and yet, there is not a single universally acceptable definition of poverty. Definitions usually set the perimeters of the terminology and often subject to limitations and criticism. According to the definition of the World Bank, the term lack refers to the scarcity of economic resources while the term inability refers to the failure of competence to take part in a community (Bellu & Liberati, 2005). It is now widely believed that any definition can be application provided taking into consideration the historical, social and cultural contexts in which it is stated. This consensus allowed many new definitions of poverty and all definitions are bound to their respective certain context.
Generally, definition of poverty can vary on the basis of their breadth; whether they are limited to the material core; and whether they hold also relational factors related to poverty. For instance, United Nations broadly defined the term as, ‘a violation of human dignity’, ‘lack of participation in decision-making’, ‘susceptibility to violence’ and ‘powerlessness’ (Langmore, 2000, p.37). These definitions also vary with the means of measurement of either material resources or actual product in individual life. In other words, it is defined on the basis of income and standard of living. For the purpose of this essay, the main discussion will be restricted with the definition of poverty in the words of Amartya Sen. Additionally, this essay will critically analyze the income as a measurement of poverty taking into consideration the empirical evidence available.

When refer to define poverty, the difference between the traditional unidimensional approach and contemporary multidimensional approach for the measurement of poverty should be considered. While only one variable is submitted in terms of the traditional approach, for example, consumption or income, multidimensional approach, for example, Sen’s capability theory, expands the amount of dimensions alongside which poverty is determined. The multifaceted reality of poverty, conversely, makes it tricky to confine the essence of this experience by means of a single uni- or multidimensional approaches for measurement (Fusco, 2003).
Amartya Sen presented a path breaking argument for the measurement of poverty. Capability school of thought presented a multi dimensional approach for the measurement of poverty. According to his capability theory, it is not having the capability that causes and brings about poverty. For instance, he suggests that urban poor are deprived because they do not have the capacity to produce adequate incomes to consumer adequate food and nutrition and to make informed...

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