The divide between wealth and poverty exists both between countries and within countries, and there are a wide range of opinions and judgments surrounding both wealth and poverty. Some people believe that wealth comes to those who dream big and work hard, and blame the poor for their own poverty. Then again, some people judge the wealthy as selfish or unfeeling, and blame them for poverty. Some people believe in fair distribution of wealth and equality of outcome, while others believe that income disparity is normal and the potential for wealth is an incentive. First of all, how are wealth and poverty measured?
Wealth isn’t just about money or status. There are 3 main measures of wealth: income, assets, and socioeconomic factors and quality of life. In developed countries, income inequality is the main division, but in developing countries, it’s more about having access to what we would consider basic necessities, such as indoor plumbing and running water, food, clothes, and maybe even electricity. Access to services like healthcare and education also mean you are well off. Having these things in the developed world, doesn’t necessarily mean you are viewed as wealthy. In fact, you may still be viewed as poor even if you have all of them. Although some people do live in severe poverty in developed countries, there are more services available on the whole, and a higher standard of living. Therefore, the concept of wealth and poverty is relative, and there is room for subjectivity and perspective.
In some cases, however, there is no room for argument or debate, such as people that live on less than $1 a day in the world’s poorest areas. Over 1 billion people worldwide find themselves living under these circumstances, which is regarded as absolute, rather than relative, poverty. This type of poverty is most pervasive in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where over 40 percent of the population lives on $1 a day or less. These areas also rank lowest in GDP per capita comparisons, with countries in Africa occupying the bottom 10 places in rankings, and the Democratic Republic of Congo coming in last with a GDP per capita of $365. In contrast, Qatar ranks the highest, with a GDP per capita of over $106,000.
In developed countries, recession and debt are two main concerns. Recession raises unemployment levels and dependence on welfare and benefits, and lowers wealth and quality of life. Debt is also a major concern, with many people resorting to loans and credit cards with high interest rates, which they then can’t afford to pay off. Some people get into a cycle of poverty which is hard to get out of.
The gap between the rich and the poor is something that is continually debated and discussed nationally and internationally. While extremely wealthy donors like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet can play a role in aid efforts and often donate large sums of their wealth to charity, many people argue that it is unfair that they have so much in the first place, while other people have so little. If we simply distributed the money equally, everyone would have enough. But then would there be incentive, innovation and expansion? There is a wealth of opinions and viewpoints but no one perfect solution.