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Class Inequality

“The poor you shall ever have with you”.

St Mark’s Gospel (Chapter 14, verse 7).

In addressing the issue of class inequality in modern society the following essay discusses the patterns and consequences of poverty within the UK and the USA. Poverty has always existed in societies whether affluent or not, whether technologically advanced or not, and whether modern or not. Class status affects individuals objectively, namely education, health and lifestyle; and subjectively, namely self-image and its perpetration. In this discussion the mobility of the poor is examined and later contextualised in the structural nature of societies.

The correlates of poverty status are distinct from the dynamic process causing a household to fall into or escape from poverty. This degree of mobility enables poor households to move out of this class. The pattern of poverty is popularly perceived in both developing and industrialised countries as structural and long-term (Baulch & McCulloch). Nonetheless the nature of poverty dynamics is itself transitional; the poor often move out of poverty as others move into poverty. Evidence from longitudinal studies in industrialised countries, including Germany, UK and USA, indicate this (Duncan, 1993). Duncan shows that the number of households living in poverty changes annually as due to the aforementioned mobility. He states that although many households may exist just below or above the poverty line an increase or decrease of 10% in income is required to achieve transition for measurement purposes. The ‘new poor’ status is often preceded by one or more temporary shocks, namely illness, sudden unemployment, childbirth, divorce, widowhood. In spite of this their status is usually reversed within two years. Conversely, those escaping poverty are forced back below the poverty line as a result of some reversal in their circumstances in addition to the fact that to establish

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