Is There A Difference Between Poverty and Living Poor?

Hardworking Person

Poverty is one of those issues that many people talk about and wonder about. But poverty and living poor are not the same things.

Poverty is about a person lacking enough resources or money to provide for their necessities of life, including food, clean water, shelter, and clothing. A person can have all of these necessities but maybe not have other things such as electricity. That is why there is a difference between someone in poverty and someone who may be living poor.

Poverty Definition

The definition of poverty is not as simple as you may think. The world vision of Canada has defined poverty as

“Essentially, poverty refers to lacking enough resources to provide for the necessities of life – food, clean water, shelter and clothing.”

World Visision Canada

Poverty is best defined as someone who could not provide for life’s necessities as food, clean water, shelter, and clothing. That is why homelessness is an indication of poverty.

To learn more about homelessness in America, you can read our blog by clicking here.

Living Poor Is Not The Same As Poverty

Living poor is not the same thing as poverty. A person could live in a Third World country, which means they live poor but may not fit the definition of poverty.

In other words, even though they are living in an emerging country, they may have housing, clean water, food, and some clothing. Yes, they may not live in the most luxurious house; the house may not have electricity or an air conditioner. Their water may need to boil to ensure it is clean. The food they may grow by themselves, and they may produce their clothing.

Technically, if they can fulfill all these requirements, they are not living in poverty, but they may be living poor or living in poor conditions.

That is because not all poor people live in poverty, and not all people living in poverty do not have income.

Living Poor Vs Poverty Compared

I have spent time in the mountain areas in Vietnam with some ethnic minorities. Many of these ethnic minorities might be considered as living poor but not in poverty. Most of them have handmade wooden or bamboo houses; they may need to boil their water, grow their food, and make clothes.

Most people would consider these Hill tribespeople as being poor or living poor, but technically speaking, they are not living in poverty; they can still take care of their basic human necessities.

On the other hand, there could be a homeless person living in San Francisco working two jobs and earning what would be considered a good income in most parts of the world. But as the city of San Francisco is so expensive, they cannot afford a place to live in the city. As they cannot afford the necessity of housing, they would be considered living in poverty.

The same person living in San Francisco also has a mobile phone and even has an iPad or laptop, which the Hill tribe person may not have.

I realize a lot of this may not make sense as to why the hill tribe person is not considered living in poverty, whereas the homeless person in San Francisco is. But then again, it goes back to providing the necessities of life: food, clean water, shelter, and clothing.

Being a Global Citizen – Why You Should Care?

At A Bus On a Dusty Road, we believe we should all live life as global citizens. It does not matter if you live in the United States, England, Canada, Africa, Asia, or even Polynesia. What matters is that we should all be looking at ways to live life as global citizens.

As part of living life as global citizens, we believe we need to understand some of these global issues, including the issues of poverty and living poor.

One of the things that struck me about the definition of poverty is there is nothing about the definition that says a person is in poverty if they cannot afford a phone, iPad, or laptop. So often, we think that poverty means not being able to afford these things.

But poverty has nothing to do with a person’s ability to communicate with the rest of the world or have technical devices. Yes, being on the Internet or having access to the Internet can help someone get out of living poor, but it is not one of the criteria for poverty.

There are many parts of the world where people may not have access to electricity, yet they have food, shelter, water, and clothing. So electricity or the ability to have electricity is also not one of the worldwide criteria for poverty.

At A Bus On A Dusty Road, we talk about all things to do with travel, life, and ex-pat living. We are all about “Living Life As A Global Citizen.” We explore social, cultural, and economic issues as worldwide poverty.

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Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

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