Understanding Generational Poverty: A Closer Look
At Refined and Refreshed Inc., we have an understanding that creating healthy flourishing legacies and breaking the cycle of generational poverty is a generational work. For us, a generational work entails embracing collaboration, having a communal mindset, continuing the work established before us and connecting with future generations to the mission at hand. With that said, let’s take a closer look at defining generational poverty.
Defining generational poverty
Generational poverty is a persistent cycle of deprivation that can be extremely difficult to break. It's often defined as a family or community who has experienced poverty for two or more generations, and the effects can last long into the future.
Generational poverty is typically caused by limited resources, such as, education, healthcare, and job opportunities. It can begin with one generation not having enough money to get out of debt or make ends meet; this lack of economic stability can then carry down through succeeding generations in a vicious cycle.
According to the Borgen Project, generational poverty includes financial, material and environmental assets, human capital and attitudes, culture and other knowledge or traditions.
I think defining generational poverty is important for finding solutions to break this cycle. In operational management there is a saying that goes, “you do what you measure.” This means the data that you focus on or seek to measure to will determine the direction and action the organization takes. In the same way, however, we define generational poverty can determine the direction and actions we take towards it.
The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index
When it comes to defining poverty, I think the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative at the University of Oxford and the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Program has done a good job. They have developed the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to measure poverty based on three dimensions of poverty.
Determining if someone is living in poverty is not just focused on economic measurements, but also on health (nutrition, child mortality), education (schooling, school attendance) and standard of living (utilities, drinking water, housing, other assets).
This is a step in the right direction because how someone gets impoverished is complex. The affects of poverty are comprehensive and the solutions to eradicating it are considerable. Thus, what we measure or how we define poverty can determine the actions we take towards solving this crisis.
Much more can be said on the causes of generational poverty, the effects of generational poverty, how it can impact every area of life and what can be done to help solve it. Here at Refined and Refreshed Inc., it is our hope to continue these conversations and provide solutions, but we also understand its not immediate. We understand this is a generational work and we need your help to continue the mission forward.
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Rodriguez, Andrea, "Breaking the Cycle: Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty", June 9, 2019
OPHI, UNDP, Global Multidimensional Poverty Index