Poverty in the United States and India

Published 07 Sep 2017

So many nations are subject to the growing problem of poverty in its areas. Most often, countries look up to other progressive and powerful nations, like the United States of America, because of its better, if not best, economic and social development. U.S. has been regarded as one of the most influential countries around the globe. It has proven its stature over time due to its impressive growth, supremacy, vast opportunities and technological advancement. On the other hand, there are many countries, which have been on the news at all times, due to disturbing realities. That is why, most often, people have lasting impressions regarding these countries and the deprivation they possess. One of those countries is the Hindu nation found in South Asia, India. It has been known to be a poor country, with thousands of people dying from hunger. Seemingly, compared to the United States, India is absolutely more of a suffering country.

Nevertheless, the United States is not ‘all that’. There is absolutely more to it, or probably less, than one could ever imagine. Just like India, U.S. is also suffering from poverty. This is the situation wherein individuals or families have an annual income that is less than the poverty line set by the U.S. Government. In fact, the official poverty rate of U.S. in 2006 was 12.3%, down from 12.6% in 2005 (DeNavas, 2006, p.11). In more quantified terms, in 2006, there were 36.5 million Americans who were poor, not quite far from those experiencing poverty the previous year. However, this statistics is said to be understated because of the fact that poverty in the United States is cyclical in nature, meaning “most poor people cycle in and out of poverty; they do not stay poor for long periods” (cited in Zweig, 2004). As a result, far more than 12% of the US population falls below the poverty line at a particular point over a number of years. No matter, this still shows a larger percentage of Americans who are or who become poor at some point. Moreover, around 11% of Americans were deprived of food in 2002, “and the prevalence of food insecurity with hunger rose from 3.3% in 2001to 3.5% in 2002″ (Nord, 2002, p.6). There are many direct and indirect sources, which are attributable to the poverty experienced by Americans. These include unfavorable economic conditions, inadequate education and employment opportunities, natural calamities, inability to meet high costs of living, and crime.

On the other hand, India has in fact experienced recent economic growths. However, it still suffers from extreme poverty. The Planning Commission has estimated that a substantial “27.5% of the population was living below the poverty line in 2004 to 2005″ (“Poverty”, 2007, p.6). The National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCESU) states that 77% of Indians (or Hindus, as the are righteously called) or 836 million people lived on less than 20 rupees per day (this figure as having been previously reported as either 2 or 0.5 dollars per day. A major cause of poverty in India, especially among rural people, is the lack of access to productive assets and financial resources. India relies on agricultural lands in remote areas, which have meager returns. Therefore, people tend to flock to cities hoping to have a better life. As a result, there have been large shanties and slum areas leading to urban poverty in India. In fact, there had been 20 to 60 million deaths due to starvation in Indian colonies.

It is quite apparent the India is indeed suffering more in terms of poverty-stricken families weighed against the United States. This is mainly due to the fact that the latter is indeed a more progressive country than the Hindu nation. Its abundant resources are used more extensively, and that it has more ‘capacity’ to induce fast solutions to its poverty rate. India, on the other hand, needs dramatic reforms to reverse its problem of widespread poverty.


  • DeNavas-Walt, C., Proctor, B.D., & Smith, J. (2006). Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States.U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  • Nandal, S. (2005, November). Extent and Causes of Gender and Poverty in India. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 7 #2.
  • Nord, M., Andrews, M., & Carlson, S. (2002). Household Food Security in the United States. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Assisatnce and Nutrition Report No. 35.
  • Poverty Estimates for 2004 – 2005 (2007, March). Government of India, Press Information Bureau.
  • Zweig, M. (2004). What’s Class Got To Do With It, American Society in the Twenty-first Century. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press.
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