Society often sees children in poverty living the same life as their parents in the future. However, there are also other factors that influence a child's life, such as the lack of resources and worry about day-to-day survival. As it turns out, these things tend to have a greater impact on families living in poverty. They are what some would call the Root Causes of Generational Poverty.
Lack of Resources
Due to their financial position, parents living in poverty may not be able to afford educational resources to help their children with their education, such as:
Tutoring: If the child is struggling academically, the parent is unable to get extra academic help. So, the child's grades can continue to decline. This trend can decrease their chances of getting into a good school and furthering their education.
College: Some students may not be qualified to receive financial help from college and their parents are unable to take on such a huge sum of money - out of necessity, the child ends up finding a job straight out of high school, one without higher education qualifications. In turn, this limits potential income and can continue that cycle of poverty.
Lack of adult supervision. Many parents in poverty are usually busy working and cannot afford childcare. Without proper adult supervision, the child is vulnerable to negative influences from their surrounding environment. This could include using aggression as a response to problems, which may not be the best thing for a child to learn. These values will stick with the child as they get older and it can influence their major decisions in the future.
Stress of Survival
When it comes to poverty, people constantly worry about their short-term future. Worries such as: whether there will be food on the table tomorrow, will there be enough money to buy groceries, will have any water in the house because of their unpaid bills. With all these things being a constant worry in the back of their mind, a lot of stress can build up in a child, especially if they are indirectly taught to think this way. Worried about their family, children can soon lose focus on their education and eventually drop out of school to do what is more important to them - taking care of their family's daily needs. It can feel as if nothing can be done to change the situation and consequently, hopelessness can develop.
Generational poverty is complex and easily misunderstood. Education and awareness of such complexities is an essential first step in helping to alleviate generational poverty.
Nccaa. (2020, December 11). Generational poverty. NCCAA.
Rampton, J. (2022, October 11). Generational poverty: How to break the cycle of poverty. Entrepreneur.