Urban poverty has emerged to be one of the most significant stumbling blocks to progression and economic stability. The problem more often than not arises as a result of the influx of people from the rural areas into towns in search of white collar jobs. The situation such people usually meet in towns is characterized by a stark difference from what they expected. On realization that the urban areas cannot offer the opportunities they were hoping to find, such people settle for less. They opt for the blue collar jobs which in most cases are not only menial but also low-paying. Most settle for this option because either their literacy levels do not allow them to land more decent jobs or because they lack the skills and technological know-how required for the job. “Many primitive and preliterate peoples that have been studied by anthropologists suffer dire poverty attributable to low technology or thin resources or both.” In this statement, Oscar Lewis brings out the relationship between the urban poor and the literacy level which is commonly the barrier between them and getting decent jobs. With the high cost of living characteristic of urban settings such individuals end up spending all their income on daily needs and saving is labeled a luxury. Getting other essential goods and services such as healthcare, therefore, becomes an uphill task. The problems associated with the urban poor do not end there. They are, in addition, predisposed to violent acts and criminal activities. According to Lewis, “the disposition for protests among people living in a culture of poverty will vary considerably according to the national context and historical circumstances.” He highlights some of the activities to which poor people are prone to, giving an example of protests (Lewis, 99). The positive sides associated with urban life, such as economies of scale rarely apply to them. As a result, they find themselves in a race of life in which they always play second fiddle, trying to keep up with the world.


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According to research, the population of urban dwellers has shot up tremendously and today, more than half of the total world population stays in the urban areas. The research also demonstrates that in the next decade, the urban population will double, especially in the poor regions of Asia and Africa. This is due to an ever increasing population and rural to urban migration. “The most likely candidates for the culture of poverty would be the people who come from the lower strata of a rapidly changing society and who are already partially alienated from it”. In this statement, Lewis seeks to share his opinion on the causes of poverty and why the perception of poverty among a people creeps and roots itself among them like a disease (Lewis, 99). He asserts that certain drastic changes within a society play a huge role in tolerating and enhancing poverty. A World Bank report released in 2008 revealed that 1.45 billion people across the world live under $1.45 a day. The rising cost of food and energy has not done any justice to this figure and the situation is expected to deteriorate even further. The report also indicated that China was the biggest mover with regard to poverty reduction levels, with more than six hundred million people elevated out of the poverty bracket. As a result, China is seen to be on course to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The primary causes of urban poverty are attributable to explosive population statistics and the popular trend of rural to urban migration. The population increase in most third world nations does not match the job opportunities created. The number of unemployed people, therefore, keeps on rising. In the same way, the influx of people into towns overwhelms the opportunities available in the urban areas setting the rest of the population jobless. According to Lewis, “The national context can make a big difference in the play of the crucial traits of fatalism and hopelessness.” In this context, he presents the various ways by which governments and nations can adequately tackle the issue of poverty in the interest of the citizens (Lewis, 101).

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