Economic deprivation is defined as the lack of sufficient income for people to play roles, participate in the relationships, and take part in the accepted behavior expected of them by the society. Take for instance, the need for a telephone or a car. In a developed country these gadgets are necessities in order to secure jobs and maintain relations with family and friends. Economic deprivation in this instance then means the inability to secure or afford necessities for survival.
Despite making huge economic strides in the last years, economic deprivation still remains a serious problem in the world particularly in the third world countries. Economic deprivation is a state of income inequality wherein income generated by an individual is not enough to cover his basic needs. Economic deprivation has increased the gap between rich and poor where the rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer. This is so because rich people have the financial means to create more wealth. Economically deprived people, on the other hand, barely have enough for subsistence.
Poverty is one of the world’s most persistent problems. Even in highly industrialized countries such as the United States, poverty still exists. The United States has more per capita than any other industrialized country. To address economic deprivation or poverty, US has set aside more than $500 billion per year, or about 12 percent of its gross national product, to public assistance and social insurance programs for the economically deprived like Social Security, Medicare, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), food stamps, and Medicaid. Despite efforts undertaken by the government to reduce income inequality, poverty is more widespread in the United States compared to other industrialized countries. The Census Bureau pegged the poverty level at 33.6 million Americans in 1990 or almost 14 percent of the population.
These official figures show the number of people whose annual family income is less than an absolute “poverty line” which was set by the federal government in the mid-sixties. The poverty line is computed as more or less three times the annual cost of a nutritionally adequate diet. Family size is one of its considerations. It is updated every year to reflect changes in the consumer price index. In 1990, the poverty line for a family of four was $13,359.