The Causes and Effects of Poverty in the USA
One of the most difficult problems in the United States is a problem of poverty. The United States is a developed country with a strong economy. Nevertheless, the problem of poverty remains relevant. One can indicate many causes of indigence in the U.S, but the most important reasons are related to wage inequality, changes in family composition, and inefficient allocation of public funds in the fight against poverty. This problem has a number of negative consequences, but one of the most important ones is the fact that poverty leads to ill health of Americans because it has a negative impact on both their physical and psychological health. This paper provides a brief overview of the main causes of indigence in the US and analyzes its impact on the health of Americans.
Analyzing the economic factor of poverty in the United States, one needs to take into account the unstable distribution of wages in the economy of this country. According to statistics, the US economy showed steady growth between 1960 and 1990. Nevertheless, despite this data, “between the early 1970s and the mid-1990s, poverty increased” (Haskins and Sawhill 3). This happened due to the fact that “one reason was wage stagnation at the bottom of the income distribution, which led to growing wage inequality” (Haskins and Sawhill 4). In other words, the wrong distribution of wages has led to the fact that some Americans began to earn much more than others. An equally important factor in poverty in the United States is connected to changes in the family composition of the Americans. A large number of divorces led to single-parent families. Single mothers earned less than men that caused an increase in poverty in the United States. Finally, it appears that government programs to combat indigence are not effective at all.
Poverty, as defined above, has a number of negative consequences for the lives of Americans. Ill health is the most negative of these effects. Indigence is able to exert diverse effects on the health of individuals around the world, including the US people. It is one of the main reasons that lead to high infant mortality as well as poor reproductive health. In addition, poverty contributes to the spread of a large number of infectious diseases because the low level of income is directly related to the quality of people’s lives. In turn, the poor quality of life leads to a weakening of the immunity that ultimately results in the spread of infectious diseases in particular among the Americans. No less important is the fact that the low level of financial state of the family has an effect on the abuse of alcohol and nicotine.
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Research confirms this fact, as indeed, people who receive low salaries are much more likely to suffer from alcohol abuse compared to the wealthy people. In its turn, “substance use affects determinants of poverty including the ability to hold a job” (Ingebrigtsen). The problem of poverty also limits the ability of people in their access to good food and water. The lack of good and quality food often leads to obesity, which is a fairly common problem among Americans: “families with limited economic resources may turn to food with poor nutritional quality because it is cheaper and more accessible” (Blumenthal and Guo). This food is quite greasy and hearty but, in fact, it is not balanced, since it contains a small amount of nutrients.
In general, considering the impact of poverty on health, it is necessary to recognize that it affects not only the physical but also the mental health of people. Lack of money is one of the main causes of nervous tension, stress, and depression. In their turn, “Increased stress and social isolation can lead to conditions like heart disease and asthma” (“Poverty Fact Sheet: Poor and In Poor Health”). Finally, no less important is the fact that poverty restricts access to quality health care (“Poverty Fact Sheet”). Poor Americans simply do not have the opportunity to receive professional medical assistance. This has very negative consequences for health because many diseases have a tendency to turn into chronic forms and lead to a number of other health problems.
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To sum up, poverty in the US is caused by a number of serious reasons such as the unequal distribution of wages, the emergence of a large number of single-parent families, and the inefficiency of government programs that are to combat indigence in the United States. Ultimately, poverty is a cause of ill-health of Americans often associated with such problems as obesity as well as alcohol and nicotine abuse. These additional factors have an even stronger impact on the health of Americans. Poverty has a negative impact not only on the physical but also on the psychological health of people. One of the main difficulties is that poverty deprives the Americans of their access to quality health care. Given all this, the fight against the negative effects of poverty on the health of Americans should suggest a comprehensive approach.