LSO120 Final Assessment  Essay 

LSO120 Final Assessment  Essay 

Poverty is a persistent problem that has been a problem in the US for many years. Poverty in the US has been a point of discussion by every regime that takes over the government. Each administration comes up with measures that would effectively reduce income disparity and raise living standards (Laird et al., 2018). The increased number of Americans unable to afford decent housing and basic needs in life defines increased rates of the poverty line and poor standard of living. The official poverty threshold for a 4-member family with two children in American society is $26,500 in 2021 (Baker et al., 2021). This amount is comparatively higher than the level recorded in 2019 and 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This implies that the current COVID-19 pandemic increased poverty rates in the US, defined by a massive loss of jobs. The purpose of this essay is to discuss the disturbing patterns of poverty in US and how people groups such as social justice and racism can be important in solving the poverty issue.

Determinants of Poverty

The extent of a family is one of the major determinants in a country. For instance, an increase in the family number implies an increase in the dependence rate that further affects the families’ quality of life. The US defines healthy living as a condition where a manageable family is able to get all its basic needs without straining. The state of a healthy family is always attained by reducing the family size (Baker et al., 2021). Besides, a small-sized family can afford other self-actualization benefits that allow them to obtain additional factors that make life enjoyable. A healthy American life is defined by the balance between a person’s mental and physical health.

Conversely, luxurious living is a condition where people can meet their self-actualization needs. They are defined by a high-quality life and expensive taste from a high income. People living a luxurious life have an increased level of income that aids them in maintaining a high-end life in society (Laird et al., 2018). These people occupy a high social status in the community and do not require any governmental aid to maintain their lives. However, the number of people able to meet basic needs in the US has declined, indicating an increase in poverty rates.

The poor in the US is defined by increased homelessness and low-income levels. While factors such as drug abuse, mental illness, past traumatic events, medical issues that remain untreated, domestic violence, and partner abuse, decreased income level is still the main reason for homeless defining poor people in different regions in the US (Laird et al., 2018). Reducing income and an increasing cost of living have been heightening people’s inability to afford basic needs at home. With a population of over 8.4m people, New York has a 0.8% of its population as homeless. Approximately 68,000 men, women, and children spend their nights on the streets, in the subway or other public spaces, and the luckier in shelters (Laird et al., 2018). Looking at the Healthy People 2020 overarching goals, one can identify all four as relating to the need for shelter. However, the goal of promoting quality life, healthy development, and behavior across all life stages is much closer to the needs of those of the poor in the country. The current increase in the number of homeless people in the US indicates worsening rates.

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The poverty line in the US is measured by comparing the family income to the set of the poverty threshold or the minimum required to meet the basic needs in life. Those whose income falls under the threshold are poor, while those below the threshold are in the middle class and the rich (Struffolino & Van Winkle, 2021). The US Census Bureau plays the role of measuring the poverty level in the US. It uses the official poverty measure and supplementary poverty measure to define the rate of poverty in different states in the US (Baker et al., 2021). This data is also important in ranking the states using the level of poverty. The official poverty measure (OPM) compares the pretax income against a set threshold of a cost of minimum food diet and adjusted family size (Baker et al., 2021). Using this method, the US Census Bureau recorded a 21.8% poverty rate, an elevated level from the record given in 2019. The increase in the rate of poverty in the region is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic that saw many families jobless and unable to raise income for their basic needs in life.


Poverty and Ethnicity

Policies such as gentrification and the fight against racism in the US have been heightening equality and reducing white supremacy. Affluent people in the US should lift the poor in society. They tend to have a more social obligation in solving the issues of poverty in society. For instance, most of the community’s rich people are obligated to affect the poor condition of the people in the same community (Laird et al., 2018). The poor depend on the rich for employment that allows them to attain the basic needs of society. This implies that the rich in the US plays a significant role in balancing the poor’s income rates of the poor, allowing them to advance from the lower poverty levels to the middle class. Society believes that the poor in society work for the rich, allowing the transition of income from the rich to the poor to create a balanced community where each person can meet essential needs in life.

Fighting poverty in the US has been unsuccessful because of the inappropriate approach given to the root cause of the issues. For instance, talking about reducing poverty without eliminating racial profiling in the US limits the ability of the country to eliminate poverty. Issues of racial profiling have been in America since time immemorial. This menace has been a national problem despite the US government stating that it had moved into a post-racial era. Racial profiling happens every day on US streets (Struffolino & Van Winkle, 2021). For instance, when law and enforcement agencies target people of one color for humiliation, interrogations, and searches without any formal evidence, then the US’s statement in its post-racial era is false. The increase in poverty among the minority in the US is attributed to race. For instance, the people from poor minorities in the US fail to secure better job positions in the government and companies that can greatly change their lives.

As cited by numerous authors, the increase in discriminatory practices results in high racial disparity that increases the probability of crime and poverty in society. The increase in racial disparity further explains that the US government system still faces cases of racism in the 21st century (Struffolino & Van Winkle, 2021). Allegations pointed to the government because it still portrays Africans as worthless creatures that do not even deserve a mere handshake. Various US laws still create a significant disparity between black and whites as it minimizes any physical contact between the two races. Recent demonstrations and increasing cases of white police carrying out extrajudicial killings signify the existing modern slavery in the US.

The effect of racism is evident in various parts of the country despite a black rising to a high political seat in the US (Baker et al., 2021). The massive protests faced in 2020 after George Floyd died in the Minneapolis police department’s hands defined the silent fights that blacks have been meeting in the country. The murder of George Floyd was a fight between the poor and the rich in the US. The need to solve the stalemate between the rich and the poor in society was seen in the massive demonstrations in search of justice for George Floyd.

Effects of Poverty

The increased disparity in healthcare is another indication of the worsening rate of poverty in the US. An increased number of people from minority communities are unable to pay for their insurance premiums and hence cannot receive quality healthcare. Undeniably, not all Americans had the chance to be raised in a society that supports their health (Struffolino & Van Winkle, 2021). The barriers to quality healthcare would always result in healthcare disparities where one population receives quality care while another population misses out on such opportunities. Rural populations inhabited by the old and the poor always suffer from inadequate access to medical treatment, including preventive care and wellness visits. These issues signify that such a community is not achieving optimal health. Barriers to population advocacy include lack of support, inadequate laws and codes of ethics, powerlessness, and limited communication (Struffolino & Van Winkle, 2021). Inasmuch as a different volunteering group would be ready to lead a change in community health, they would lack support from the responsible authorities, reducing their ability to expand their services.

Increased poverty levels in the US affect the educational attainability among the poor in the community. Education is one of the basic tools that ensure the poor a bright future in the US. The increase in education among the minority in the US has raised the employment status of many people in the country. The advancement in education gives people a greater chance of securing an economic future (Baker et al., 2021). However, the increased chances of education have among the rich in the community because they can afford the expensive schools for their children. This has increased the number of rich people in better job positions while reducing the number of people from minorities. Hispanic and African-American children’s high school graduation rate is 20% lower than other ethnic communities, while their poverty rates are more than the average.


The solution to Poverty in the US

Reducing poverty in the US requires each person’s effort, including the government. While the government is keen on designing programs such as free education for poor children, individuals have the power to manage family size (Struffolino & Van Winkle, 2021). The increase in the population caused by the increasing family sizes affects the efforts taken towards fighting poverty in the country. Increasing programs such as gentrification, which has been significant in Chicago state, effectively eliminate poverty and champion increased standards of living among the poor communities.

The government needs to expand safety net programs to include all Americans in need. These programs can be important in saving people from the effects of economic crisis as people would still be able to meet their basic needs (Baker et al., 2021). The current COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how the American net structure is poor. The increase in poverty among many Americans during the pandemic was a sign of an ineffective system that lacked mitigation measures for its people. The current temporary expansions of safety net programs are not adequate for millions of Americans struggling with economic fallout during the pandemic.

The government needs to create well-paying jobs that can meet the family needs without straining. The need to rebuild the economy in an equitable way focuses on creating millions of jobs in key industries with effective worker protections that ease the burden on working families (Struffolino & Van Winkle, 2021). The soaring rates of unemployment rates during the pandemic were a sign of the poor policies that the government has been making towards creating secure jobs for many Americans. The increased protection of the people’s jobs is one of the rebuilding economies that would save many people from poverty.


Poverty is a menace in the US despite numerous policies taken to reduce poverty. The effect of these problems has been evident in the declining number of people from minority groups securing better job opportunities in the country. Besides, increased crime and racial profiling have been on the rise because of the increased poverty making many people in the US. The effect of the pandemic was significant in explaining the challenging economic times among many people in the US. However, the need to solve these issues by enacting policies to correct the problem is important in raising the standards of living in the country.


Baker, R. S., Brady, D., Parolin, Z., & Williams, D. T. (2021). The enduring significance of ethno-racial inequalities in poverty in the US, 1993–2017. Population research and policy review, 1-35.

Laird, J., Parolin, Z., Waldfogel, J., & Wimer, C. (2018). Poor state, rich state: Understanding the variability of poverty rates across US states. Sociological Science5, 628-652.

Struffolino, E., & Van Winkle, Z. (2021). Gender and race differences in pathways out of in-work poverty in the US. Social Science Research99, 102585.


In order to ease the burden on you in these troubling times and circumstances, you may choose one of two options:
1. You may write one short essay (approximately 1,500-2,000 words) on one of the following eight topics1. You may write two even shorter essays (approximately 750-1,000 words each) on two different topics selected from the following eight topics.
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