Types of Poverty — Studying the Spokes
Imagine that the hub of a bicycle wheel represents a young girl living in a poor household in a rural area in the Caribbean or a young man with a disability living in a community of urban poor where the poverty rate exceeds 95 percent. Regardless of the scene, the hub of the bicycle wheel represents inequality and a life in which survival is a daily accomplishment.
Reaching out from the hub are the wheel's spokes. They represent our basic human needs and the different characteristics of poverty.
The first spoke represents a type of poverty that is easily overlooked — social poverty.
Social poverty includes people groups that are undervalued and have few rights. Oftentimes, social poverty is easiest to spot when we look for people who have been silenced—they have no say and their rights are minimized. They are often oppressed and thought of as insignificant.
The second spoke and poverty type is educational poverty.
Hundreds of millions of children lack education and that creates lack of options. Education equals knowledge, skills, and training, so when education is not available, families get trapped in the cycle of poverty for generations. Steady employment and income can be difficult to find and a person’s basic needs can’t be met. Lack of education also makes children more vulnerable to exploitation or abuse.
The third spoke symbolizes health poverty.
Health poverty may sound strange, but when a person is unhealthy it is difficult to hold down a job and develop positive relationships. Physical and emotional health is the basis for our ability to work, play and be in relationship with others.
Spiritual poverty is the next spoke in our bicycle wheel.
Spiritual poverty can be summed up by the word “hopelessness.” Oftentimes, people in poverty struggle with feelings of worthlessness and despair. Children are especially vulnerable to these emotions and the message of despair poverty sends.
The next spoke in the wheel of poverty is environmental poverty.
Physical surroundings play a large role in a person’s wellbeing. Environmental factors include climate, housing options, land availability, water supply, insects that carry disease, water-born illnesses, weather, drought, and much more.
Finally, the last type of poverty is the more traditionally understood type of poverty — economic poverty.
Half the world lives with a household income of less than $2.50 a day. This level of poverty is the equal of slavery. People need an income level which allows them to purchase what they cannot make or grow.