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How can it be still acceptable  in the 21st Century to have people living in absolute poverty. To understand the absurdity of the idea, we must understand the difference between Absolute and Relative Poverty. Absolute Poverty is a set standard of whether someone has access to the basic necessities important to survive healthily within this world [Absolute versus Relative Poverty]. Some people would classify this as being summed up in a report by British Liberal politician: William Beveridge where he identified five ‘Giant Evils’.

  • Want
  • Disease
  • Ignorance
  • Squalor
  • Idleness [Social Insurance and Allied Services, pages 6-7]

However, Idleness would be more a means to poverty rather than a symptom of poverty itself.

Relative poverty however changes depending upon certain factors including location or social circle. It measures poverty on what you need to get by within the society you are living in, for example if you can’t afford a smart phone in many parts of the World you are considered poor, but it is not essential to our survival. By means of Relative poverty, when measured in relativity to the country being examined, all countries would appear similar.

There is absolute poverty in Britain [November 201 5 Department for Communities and Local Government P1E Quarterly return] which is the 10th Richest Nation in the World in terms of GDP (PPP), according to the World Bank [ , yet the Global North is disproportionally richer than the Global South and poverty levels are far higher. According to [] 10.9% of the world is chronically undernourished, yet the figures also show that the ‘Developed World’ is less than 5%, whilst in Asia it is 12.1% and in Africa 20%.

The United Nations claim to have reached its Millennium Development Goal on halving global absolute poverty by half, five years before the 2015 deadline it set for itself. However they measure this poverty by those who live on less than $1.25 a day []. This figure doesn’t take into account that different nations have different currencies and the price of goods varies meaning in many countries you can survive on far less than others.

Therefore we see that Absolute Poverty cannot be measured with a numerical figure, rather it must be measured what you can buy with the money you are receiving. He United Nation’s method also does not take safety nets into account. These include benefits provided by the state like housing benefit or healthcare. You can get healthcare for free in some countries and the state can also make up the rent that you can’t afford on a flat.

Due to the manmade borders that divide the planet we often see poverty by the standards of the country we live in, so those who live in relative poverty in your nation are the priority over those dying and suffering from Absolute Poverty. We have the resources to end poverty, but we seem more interested in spending it on instruments of destruction rather than to uplift people out of suffering. The fact is that poverty is a combination of Imperialism stripping the wealth from other countries and Capitalism making sure that that stolen wealth ends up more often than not in the hands of the rich.

Huseyin Diakides




  1. Foster, J. (1998). Absolute versus Relative Poverty. American Economic Review. 88 (2), 335-341.
  2. Beveridge, W (1942). Social Insurance and Allied Services. London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office. 6-7.
  3. Department For Communities and Local Government (2015). November 201 5 Department for Communities and Local Government P1E Quarterly return (1 July to 30 September 2015). London: OGL.
  4. World Bank (2015) Gross domestic product 2014, PPP, Available at: (Accessed: 14th December 2015).
  5. org. 2015. World Poverty. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 December 15].
  6. United Nations. 2015. GOAL 1: ERADICATE EXTREME POVERTY & HUNGER. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 December 15].
  7. Gilpin, R, 2001. Global Political Economy. 1st ed. Oxfordshire: Princeton University Press.



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