No one wants to live in poverty. Few people would want others to do so. Yet, we find ourselves in a situation where millions of people worldwide live in poverty. According to the World Bank in 2010, 1.2 billion people lived below the extreme poverty line with an income of U.S. $1.25 or less a day and 2.4 billion lived on less than U.S. $2 a day. Why is that? What has been done about it in the past? And what is being done about it now?
In this Very Short Introduction Philip N. Jefferson explores how the answers to these questions lie in the social, political, economic, educational, and technological processes that impact all of us throughout our lives. The degree of vulnerability is all that differentiates us. He shows how a person's level of vulnerability to adverse changes in their life is very much dependent on the circumstances of their birth, including where their family lived, the schools they attended, whether it was peacetime or wartime, whether they had access to clean water, and whether they are male or female. Arguing that while poverty is ancient and enduring, the conversation about it is always new and evolving, Jefferson looks at the history of poverty, and the practical and analytical efforts we have made to eradicate it, and the prospects for further poverty alleviation in the future.