Definition of Absolute Poverty
Absolute poverty or abject poverty is a situation in which an individual or a family cannot meet the basic necessities of life. People facing subsistence poverty live below the universal basic income line. Social scientists’ study of this poverty has revealed the basic requirements for an individual’s dignified and healthy life. Food, water, shelter, elementary education, and medical care are considered significant necessities of life.
Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree’s contributions laid the groundwork for the analysis of this level of poverty. Robert McNamara, president of the World Bank, used the expression “absolute poverty” for the first time in his 1973 Annual Conference address. He was the first to articulate the World Bank’s dual objectives of accelerating economic development and reducing poverty. The absolute level of poverty is characterized by starvation, illiteracy, sickness, an unsanitary environment, high infant mortality, and short life expectancy, per the World Development Report of 1978.
According to sociologists, the necessities for basic sustenance and physical existence are lacking at this poverty level. This type of poverty is often associated with underdeveloped nations; however, it is claimed that it also occurs in many industrialized, affluent countries among the downtrodden and the homeless.
Currently, Western Europe asserts that poverty of this nature has been eradicated. According to Chinese President Xi Jinping, China abolished severe poverty in 2021. Some estimates indicate that over half of the population in low-income nations lives in this category type of poverty.
The most significant theoretical criticism of the absolute type of poverty metric is that the definition of poverty changes with time, space, and location.
A girl child who never got an opportunity to treat her ailment or receive medical care from hospitals due to financial and social difficulties can be considered living in absolute poverty.