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What is poverty? Its definition is key and lies at the heart of arguments around poverty issues.

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What is poverty? Its definition is key and lies at the heart of arguments around poverty issues. The below quote by Townsend (1979) pp 57, presents an understanding of poverty held by most people today. "Individuals, families and groups in the population can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the type of diet, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and amenities which are customary for the societies in which they belong". While they can be different levels at which one can experience poverty. Townsend's quote relates more to 'relative' poverty. 'Absolute' poverty is thought to occur when one does not even have the minimum needed to sustain life. It is often assumed that 'absolute' poverty has been erased by the welfare state. Though, debates arising in recent times suggest the return of absolute poverty as a result of social policy in Britain. The government has issued a number of reports investigating poverty, and its effects. Generally speaking poverty is understood to be the level at which deprivation is inevitable. 1 in 3 children in Britain are living in poverty. Children with unskilled fathers have death rates double their counterparts in professional classes. Government statistics show not only that income inequalities have widened, but that the effect of taxes and benefits has been to increase, rather than to reduce inequalities, Shaw. ...read more.


Those in higher classes are less likely than those in manual classes to have hypertension. Birth weight is lower for babies whose fathers are in manual social classes. Birth weight is even lower for babies whose birth is registered solely by the mother. Low birth weight babies are born mainly in the lower classes. The lifestyle into which they are born accelerates the problem. For instance those in lower classes tend to smoke more than others, this effects infant health and causes low birth weight in unborn babies. Also the poor housing conditions in which they are bought up effects their health. Reduced birth weight is associated with increased morality and morbidity in the early years. Low birth weight increases the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease later in life. It could be said infant health is affected due to the incident of breastfeeding. Almost three quarters of those born in classes I are breastfeed up to almost 6 week. This declines in class with almost 1 quarter of babies in class V. Statistics show consistently that those in the lower class have higher morality, morbidity and disability rates. Morality differentials increased dramatically in Britain during 1981-95 in line equally dramatic increases in income inequalities. It is found that most serious diseases such as premature birth, obesity, hypertension, coronary artery disease, are all more common in the lower classes. ...read more.


Various suggestions have been made by Governments reports and sociologist about the causes for these inequalities and the solution to eradicating them The 'Black report' would suggest that these inequalities are a result of material inequalities, be that housing, transport or nutrition. However 'Health of the Nation' argues that inequalities are due to different life styles. Those in the lower classes have poorer diets, take less exercise, smoke and drink more. This is an individual responsibility and it is up to the individual to change their individual life style. Wilkinson points at the 'income gap', he suggests that reducing this will reduce inequalities in health. And Navarro blames the 'capitalist system' of society, criticizing the state for blaming the individual, and suggesting that this strategy of blaming the individual is done just to open up another market, that of medical insurance. The state encourages the individual to get better medical insurance in order to have better health. Poverty is never written as the official cause of death on a death certificate. But statistics show that there is an intrinsic link between poverty and poor health. If the correct method to eradicate poverty was to be found, the effects of poverty on health would still be present for generations. As genetic also have a place in carrying the effects of deprivation. This is a deep rotted problem which would take decades to solve. ...read more.

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