The Basics: The Politics and Economics of Poverty

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By Blair Simmons NYU ’16, Ragini Bali NYU ’16, Katrina Chua NYU ’17, Karen Quintana NYU ’15

Below you will find some terms, organizations and definitions, which will help contextualize the discussion on poverty on Thursday.

poverty (n.) [pov-er-tee]: the state of being extremely poor

The Bolsa Família (n.): is a program implemented in Brazil that pays under-privileged families a certain amount of money to keep their children in school and to receive regular health checkups. This program is funded by the Brazilian government and aims to give children a better education and, in return, a better future.

Microfinance (n.) [mahy-kroh-fi-nans]: is a type of banking service whose ultimate goal is to provide a means of saving money, borrowing money and insurance for low income groups or individuals who would have no other means of gaining financial services.
Fact: The World Bank estimates that over 500 million people have in some way benefitted from microfinance services.

poverty line (n.) [pov-er-tee lahyn]: a level of personal or family income below which one is classified as poor according to governmental standards

poverty trap (n.) [pov-er-tee trap]:
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COSPE (n.): (founded in 1983) A private, secular and non-profit organization that promotes intercultural dialogue, equitable and sustainable development, human rights, peace and justice among nations. It was founded in Florence. Through the years, COSPE extended out to greater Italy, the southern hemisphere and various countries in Europe. Similarly, its purpose expanded to dealing issues on multiculturalism, citizen rights, and global citizenship education.

Grameen Bank (n.): (created in 1987) An independent microfinance organization that aims to fight poverty by providing small loans to the poor. Operating under mutual trust, participation and creativity, GB requires no collateral, no legal instrument, and no joint liability from its members. The bank has 8.35 million borrowers, a staggering 96% of them being women.  What’s more, its borrowers own 95% of the total equity of the bank. GB is proven to be a successful enterprise for its 97% recovery rate.
Fact: As of 1995, GB decided not to receive any more donor funds and still manages to finance 100% of its outstanding loans from the deposit.

Defining poverty is not this straight forward. Click below to add to the complexities of living below the poverty line:

Can Marriage Cure Poverty?
EU pushes ‘people-centered’ response to extreme poverty
Understanding Poverty
Poverty and Inequality in the European Union
Does Microcredit Really Help Poor People?
Microcredit and Grameen Bank

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