Essays About Poverty: 10 Writing Prompts for Students

If you are looking to write essays about poverty, there are a lot of topics from which to choose. Here are a few topics you might want to explore.

A poverty essay can be a challenging topic because it has been the political and social factors that contribute. Homelessness among low-income individuals stems from many different causes, and the challenges that poor people suffer can be difficult for some people to relate to. The poverty rate in developing countries is high, but many people also live below the poverty line in America. It can be a challenge to foster economic growth across the board, but one of the ways to foster discussion is through essays. Take a look at these topics that you might want to explore in your next essay on poverty.

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Essays About Poverty

1. The Causes of Poverty

One of the most specific topics to address involves the causes of poverty. You can craft an essay to examine the most common causes of extreme poverty. Here are a few topics you might want to include:

  • Racial discrimination, particularly among African Americans, has been a common cause of poverty throughout American history. Discrimination and racism can make it hard for people to get the education they need, making it nearly impossible for people to get a job.
  • A lack of access to adequate health care can also lead to poverty. When people do not have access to healthcare, they are more likely to get sick. This could make it hard for them to go to work while also leading to major medical bills.
  • Inadequate food and water can lead to poverty as well. If people’s basic needs aren’t met, they focus on finding food and water instead of getting an education they can use to find a better job.

These are just a few of the most common causes of poverty you might want to highlight in your essay. These topics could help people see why some people are more likely to become impoverished than others.

2. The Negative Effects of Poverty

Poverty affects everyone, and the impacts of an impoverished lifestyle are very real. Furthermore, the disparities when comparing adult poverty to child poverty are also significant. This opens the doors to multiple possible essay topics. Here are a few points to include:

  • When children live in poverty, their development is stunted. For example, they might not be able to get to school on time due to a lack of transportation, making it hard for them to keep up with their peers. Child poverty also leads to malnutrition, which can stunt their development.
  • Poverty can impact familial relationships as well. For example, members of the same family could fight for limited resources, making it hard for family members to bond. In addition, malnutrition can stunt the growth of children.
  • As a side effect of poverty, people have difficulty finding a safe place to live. This creates a challenging environment for everyone involved, and it is even harder for children to grow and develop.
  • When poverty leads to homelessness, it is hard for someone to get a job. They don’t have an address to use for physical communication, which leads to employment concerns.

These are just a few of the many side effects of poverty. Of course, these impacts are felt by people across the board, but it is not unusual for children to feel the effects of poverty that much more.

3. How Countries Can Reduce Poverty Rates

Essays About Poverty: How countries can reduce poverty rates?
Different countries take different approaches to reduce the number of people living in poverty

The issue of poverty is a major human rights concern, and many countries explore poverty reduction strategies to improve people’s quality of life. You might want to examine different strategies that different countries are taking while also suggesting how some countries can do more. A few ways to write this essay include:

  • Explore the poverty level in America, comparing it to the poverty level of a European country. Then, explore why different countries take different strategies.
  • Compare the minimum wage in one state, such as New York, to the minimum wage in another state, such as Alabama. Why is it higher in one state? What does raising the minimum wage do to the cost of living?
  • Highlight a few advocacy groups and nonprofit organizations actively lobbying their governments to do more for low-income families. Then, talk about why some efforts are more successful than others.

Different countries take different approaches to reduce the number of people living in poverty. Poverty within each country is such a broad topic that you could write a different essay on how poverty could be decreased within the country.

4. The Basic Necessities and Poverty

You could also write an essay on the necessities people need to survive. You could take a look at information published by the United Nations, which focuses on getting people out of the cycle of poverty across the globe. The social problem of poverty can be addressed by giving people the necessities they need to survive, particularly in rural areas. Here are ome of the areas you might want to include:

  • Affordable housing
  • Fresh, healthy food and clean water
  • Access to an affordable education
  • Access to affordable healthcare

Giving everyone these necessities could significantly improve their well-being and get people out of absolute poverty. You might even want to talk about whether these necessities vary depending on where someone is living.

5. How Disabilities Can Lead To Poverty

There are a lot of medical and social issues that contribute to poverty, and you could write about how disabilities contribute to poverty. This is one of the most important essay topics because people could be disabled through no fault of their own. Some of the issues you might want to address in this essay include:

  • Talk about the road someone faces if they become disabled while serving overseas. What is it like for people to apply for benefits through the Veterans’ Administration?
  • Discuss what happens if someone becomes disabled while at work. What is it like for someone to pursue disability benefits if they are hurt doing a blue-collar job instead of a desk job?
  • Research and discuss the experiences of disabled people and how their disability impacts their financial situation.

People who are disabled need to have money to survive for many reasons, such as the inability to work, limitations at home, and medical expenses. A lack of money, in this situation, can lead to a dangerous cycle that can make it hard for someone to be financially stable and live a comfortable lifestyle.

6. How the Cycle of Poverty Unfolds 

Many people talk about the cycle of poverty, yet many people aren’t entirely sure what this means or what it entails. A few key points you should address in this essay include:

  • When someone is born into poverty, income inequality can make it hard to get an education.
  • A lack of education makes it hard for someone to get into a good school, which gives them the foundation they need to compete for a good job. 
  • A lack of money can make it hard for someone to afford college, even if they get into a good school.
  • Without attending a good college, it can be hard for someone to get a good job. This makes it hard for someone to support themselves or their families. 
  • Without a good paycheck, it is nearly impossible for someone to keep their children out of poverty, limiting upward mobility into the middle class.

The problem of poverty is a positive feedback loop. FIt can be nearly impossible for those who live this every day to escape. Therefore, you might want to explore a few initiatives that could break the cycle of world poverty and explore other measures that could break this feedback loop.

7. Universal Basic Income and Its Relationship To Poverty

Many business people and politicians have floated the idea of a universal basic income to give people the basic resources they need to survive. While this hasn’t gotten a lot of serious traction, you could write an essay to shed light on this idea. A few points to hit on include:

  • What does a universal basic income mean, and how is it distributed?
  • Some people are concerned about the impact this would have on taxes. How would this be paid for?
  • What is the minimum amount of money someone would need to stay out of poverty? Is it different in different areas?
  • What are a few of the biggest reasons major world governments haven’t passed this?

This is one of the best essay examples because it gives you a lot of room to be creative. However, there hasn’t been a concrete structure for implementing this plan, so you might want to afford one.

8. Interview Someone Who Has Experience Living in Poverty

Another interesting topic you might want to explore is interviewing someone who is either living in poverty or who has been impoverished in the past. While you can talk about statistics all day, they won’t be as powerful as interviewing someone who has lived that life. A few questions you might want to ask during your interview include:

  • What was it like growing up?
  • How has living in poverty made it hard for you to get a job?
  • What are some things you feel people misunderstand about those who live in poverty?
  • When you need to find a meal, do you have a place you go? Or is it somewhere different every day?
  • What do you think is the main contributor to people living in poverty?

Keep in mind that you can also craft different questions depending on your responses. You might want to let the interviewee read the essay when you are done to ensure all the information is accurate and correct.

9. The Impact of the Criminal Justice System on Poverty

The criminal justice system and poverty tend to go hand in hand. People who have a criminal record are more likely to be impoverished for several reasons. You might want to write an essay that hits on some of these points:

  • Discuss the discriminatory practices of the criminal justice system both as they relate to socioeconomic status and as they relate to race.
  • Explore just how hard it is for someone to get a job if they have a criminal record. Discuss how this might contribute to a life of poverty.
  • Dive into how this creates a positive feedback loop. For example, when someone is not able to get a job due to a criminal record, they might have to steal to survive, which makes the issue worse.
  • Review what the criminal justice system might be like for someone with resources when compared to someone who cannot afford to hire expert witnesses or pay for a good attorney.

To back up your points, you might want to include a few examples of disparate sentences for people in different socioeconomic situations. 

10. The Different Ways To Create Affordable Housing

The different ways to create affordable housing
Affordable housing can make a major difference when someone is trying to escape poverty

Many of the problems related to poverty could be reduced if people had access to affordable housing. While the cost of housing has increased dramatically in the United States, there are some initiatives to create affordable housing. Here are a few points to include:

  • Talk about public programs that offer affordable housing to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Discuss private programs, such as Habitat for Humanity, doing similar things.
  • Review the positive impacts that stable housing has on both adults and children.
  • Dive into other measures local and federal governments could take to provide more affordable housing for people.

There are a lot of political and social angles to address with this essay, so you might want to consider spreading this out across multiple papers. Affordable housing can make a major difference when someone is trying to escape poverty.

If you are interested in learning more, check out our essay writing tips!

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