Poverty in America

Poverty in America is very predominant with the at least 17% of the population living below the poverty line. The United States government uses the poverty threshold to determine the poverty level of the United States in which they define poverty as the lack of the common good and services that all the people should have access to. The poverty level of individual leads to the psychological and physical well being of the parties concerned with toe children whoa re raised form very poor backgrounds growing up to be unhealthy and also develop some psychology al problems as they develop. The rates of poverty in the United States are mainly high in the rural areas as compared to the urban areas. Poverty is more evident in the United States due to the great difference and inequality between the rich and the poor (Iceland 2003).

There are two types of poverty in the United States which includes the absolute and the relative poverty whereby the relative poverty comes about due to the rising standards of living hence inequality between the rich and the poor due to their level of income. Absolute poverty comes about as a result of individuals or families not being at a position of meeting their basic needs over given period of time, therefore those who cannot meet their basic needs are referred to as poor despite their living standards (Maslow 1971).

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

This theory states that human beings hierarchy of needs rise with the importance of those needs with the most important ones being at the bottom of the pyramid. These needs are divided in to five categories with the first (lowest) level being the psychological needs which are so important for every individual and the top most level being the self actualization needs, those which one can do without. The needs in the higher levels are only considered when these in the lower levels are first met. This therefore reveals that the importance of the needs reduces as one goes from the lower level of the pyramid to the higher levels. If the needs in the lower level are not met, then individuals cannot move on to meet the needs on the higher levels but they first have to focus on the needs at the lower level of the pyramid of which all the other needs cannot be met without first meeting the needs in the lower levels (Timmy 1999).

Poverty in America

The needs in the lower level include the basic needs like food, clothing, water, air among others. These needs are referred to as psychological needs and they are the basic needs that are required for human survival lack of which may lead to death e.g. lack of food for an individual over a given period of time may lead to death of that person. The second level shows the safety needs which are also important for an individual. To the rich, these needs are ore of basic needs because they tend to behave as if they cannot do without them while the poor are able to survive without them despite the fact s that they are very important. They include good health, security which may be both individuals’ security or financial security (Schwartz 2005). The other level of needs includes the social needs which are not so important because one can do without them. They include support from the family, friendships and some levels of intimacy. The fourth and the fifth level include self esteem and self actualization. He believes that all the individuals are able to meet all these needs but the hindrances of the society hinder them from attaining them.

Application of the theory

This theory needs to be applied in dealing with poverty in America, the degree of inequality among the poor and the rich is very wide and with the application of this theory, it may assist in solving the problem of poverty. Some people are at the highest point of the pyramid which is the self actualization while others are not even able to meet their basic needs and they are at the lowest level still struggling to meet their daily needs. Those at the highest level together with the government of the United States should help in uplifting those who are at the lowest level of the pyramid to meet their basic needs. There is need of realizing the importance of lives of individuals and if possible some should sacrifice for the sake of their fellows by assisting them to earn their basic needs. They should therefore work towards ensuring that the individual basic needs which are at level one are met (Timmy 1999).

There is a criterion that is used in the United States to determine whether an individual is legible for the federal programs. This criterion should clearly focus on those who cannot meet their basic needs which are highlighted by Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs in the first and second level by ensuring that all the individuals’ basic needs are first met. The basic needs ensures healthy living so if they are not available, then the individuals concerned may not live a

Poverty in America

healthy life.


Iceland 2003, poverty in America: a handbook, University of California Press Ltd, London.

Maslow 1971, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, Penguin Press, New York.

Clark and Timmy 1999, Success through Quality, ASQ Quality Press, Milwaukee.

Schwartz 2005, Freedom reclaimed: Rediscovering the American Vision, G-University Press, Baltimore.