By James Prumos, Trending Writer
When comparing poverty in the United States to poverty throughout the globe, one must keep in mind the United States has high income inequality compared to its peers. Despite having a highly developed society, as shown by the U.S. having the 8th highest Human Development Index among countries around the globe, the country falls to 27th when the HDI is adjusted for inequality. This places it behind neighboring Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, and all of the Scandinavian countries, among others. Also, according to the Economic Policy Institute, among selected developed countries, the U.S. has the least-effective legislation concerning poverty reduction and the highest relative poverty rate, child poverty rate, and child poverty gap.
While income inequality in the United States is high, absolute poverty compared to the rest of the world is low. The World Bank defines people that live in moderate poverty to be those that live on less than $2 per day and those in extreme poverty to be living on less than $1.25. Debt.org states that 0.5% of the population of Europe and Central Asia live in extreme poverty and unfortunately, similar can be said for the U.S. By comparison, almost 50% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa lives in extreme poverty.
The differences in absolute poverty lead to different issues that each country’s lower class must face. For example, the Huffington Post mentions that in the United States and other developed countries, those in poverty may be concerned with the price of diapers if they have an infant, or in the case of the Flint water crisis, a fresh source of drinking water. By contrast, in countries with high absolute poverty and corrupt government officials misappropriating funds for their own personal desires, the poor can struggle to survive famine. In addition to this, trade with wealthier countries often results in the wealthier country buying the poorer country’s exports at a low cost and receiving the better end of the bargain.
Overall, while poverty in the United States is not the same as poverty in the poorest countries, income inequality is noticeably greater than other developed countries. Given how wealthy the U.S. is as a whole, income inequality is a major issue that needs to be addressed.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 9th print edition.
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