Nobody wants to be considered to be below the poverty line. Unfortunately, for fourteen percent of the people in this country, that is their reality. Fourteen percent of the people currently living in the United States’ basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter are not being met. Poverty is experienced at different levels in different parts of the country. The causes and effects of insular poverty are experienced differently in rural and urban areas in the United States.
Insular poverty, defined by John Kenneth Galbraith in his 1969 essay The Position of Poverty, refers to groups of people who are poor because the circumstances of their lives trap them in social islands in which nearly everyone is poor. The people of the island have been frustrated by some factor common to their environment. Because Galbraith says that individual people in insular poverty are not responsible for their economic position, it is important to know what the causes of insular poverty are. There is not one specific cause of insular poverty, but many different causes that can become very complex. These causes vary in urban areas and rural areas.
Most of the people in poor, urban communities are ethnic minorities. The poverty rates for African Americans and American Indians are three times higher than for whites (Landon 14). Discrimination against ethnic minorities goes back for hundreds of years. Whether they are discriminated directly or indirectly, such as not being hired for a job because of their race, this discrimination contributes to poverty and other social problems (Landon 14). For example, according to the article, U.S. Incarceration Rates by Race, in 2010, there were almost seven times more African Americans in prison than white Americans. These high incarceration rates contribute to families being split up, children with parents in prison dropping out of school and becoming homeless, and a much more limited access to higher education
Cited: Darity, William A., and Samuel L. Myers. Persistent Disparity: Race and Economic Inequality in the United States since 1945. Cheltenham, UK: E. Elgar Pub., 1998. Print. Powell, John A. Examining the Relationship between Housing, Education, and Persistent Segregation: Final Report. Minneapolis, MN: Institute on Race and Poverty, 1998. Print. Landon, Beth. "Burden of Poverty in Rural America." Policy & Practice 67.5 (2009): 14-16 Place in Poverty Research and Policy, 3 Mar. 2004, Washington DC. N.p.: n.p., 2004 Nov. 2012. <http://www.prisonpolicy.org/graphs/raceinc.html>.