The Causes of Poverty
The primary risk factors that can lead to poverty are low education, lack of family supports, limited skills training, mental illness, and/or lack of savings. Often, there is no single cause of why someone is living in poverty, but instead it is a multitude of entwined factors, making poverty complex and without boundaries.
Our social safety net doesn’t catch everyone. As a result, the affects spread to groups including Aboriginal residents who experience poverty at twice the rate of non-aboriginal residents. As well, it affects immigrants dealing with language, cultural barriers and seeking employment; seniors who live on fixed incomes; and people with disabilities who must rely on social supports.
Research shows that people who are born into poverty are more likely to live in poverty as adults. They often haven’t had the stability at home needed to complete high school; they’re less likely to go on to post-secondary education, and so they begin adult life at a disadvantage.
It could be that you are working, and at more than one job. But without a higher education – and being a single parent or the sole income source for your family – it still isn’t enough to make ends meet. In fact, in 2010, 52% of Alberta’s children living in poverty were in a household where one or more people had full-time employment for the full year.
Life can throw curve balls. A turn in the economy or a family illness, can lead to job loss and sudden financial crisis. Disabilities, mental or physical illness, a difficult divorce or abuse can all contribute to a life in poverty.