oa Interim : Interdisciplinary Journal - Understanding poverty : causes, effects and characteristics

Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1684-498X



The aim of this article is to examine the concept of poverty in terms of definition, types, causes, determinants and indicators. The relationship between inequality and poverty is also visited. The absolute and relative approaches to the definition of poverty are examined. Poverty is defined as the inability of individuals or households to attain sufficient resources to satisfy a socially acceptable minimum standard of living. Characteristics which determine poverty include individual, community, household and regional characteristics. Lack of access to basic services such as dwelling, electricity, water and sanitation was found to aggravate poverty. Socio-economic factors such as unemployment, education level, gender, income and household size also affect poverty. Causes, determinants and types of poverty must first be understood before poverty can be alleviated. Poverty remains a problem in South Africa twenty years after the transition to democracy. This article is thus intended to provide the public, politicians and policy makers with a better understanding of the word "poverty" and, therefore, help alleviation of poverty.

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