VOL. 2, NO. 4, PGS. 28–42


Poverty in the Capitalist System
Why hasn't it Disappeared?
Víctor Manuel Isidro Luna

Víctor Manuel Isidro Luna is a Professor at the Faculty of Economics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the National Polytechnic Institute.

This translation has been automatically generated and has not been verified for accuracy.

Poverty is a deprivation of a certain kind of life that is considered socially acceptable. It can manifest itself in many ways, such as no income, no access to health care, no clean water, no housing, no education. If human needs remain fixed over a long period of time, then the concept of applicable poverty is said to be absolute; on the other hand, if human needs change when a country’s wealth changes, then the concept of applicable poverty is said to be relative. For example, most countries in the world use the concept of absolute poverty when they set the poverty line as not having a certain food basket, which generally only changes (and only very slightly) to take into account changes in prices. On the other hand, very few countries set their poverty line according to the average growth of the country’s wealth, which would be the fairest thing to do, because if a country’s wealth grows, then it would be logical for the whole population to also see a growth in their standard of living.

Regardless of whether the concept of poverty applied is absolute or relative, in the 1960s and 1970s it was considered an easily surmountable problem, as poverty levels tended to decline. In some European countries poverty was estimated at less than five percent1 and in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, poverty levels reached their lowest levels under President Lyndon B. Johnson. However, both developed and developing countries saw increases in poverty in the decades after the 1980s.

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