Is There A Country With No Poverty? We Find Out

Today, around 719 million people worldwide live in poverty. Many of these live in extreme poverty – defined as living on less than 1.90 USD a day. Although huge numbers of people around the world are stuck in destitution, in fact, great efforts have been made over recent decades to tackle global poverty. So, does that mean that some countries have been totally successful in ridding themselves of poverty?

There is not a country in the world with no poverty. Although some nations have very low poverty rates and strong social welfare systems, there will also be some people that, due life circumstances, fall into poverty. As a result, no nation has been able to eradicate poverty entirely.

…but that’s just an overview. In order to understand why there isn’t a country without poverty, we need to look in a bit more detail.

Why There Is No Country Without Poverty?

Right, so we’ve established that there isn’t a nation in the world where no one lives in destitution. But why is this? Why has no country been able to lift everyone out of poverty? Actually, there are four main reasons:

  • Some people will always fall into poverty
  • No country has an economic model that has ended poverty
  • No government can provide support to everyone in the nation
  • No elevation strategies can entirely remove poverty

Let’s briefly go over each of these…

Some People Will Always Fall Into Poverty

A first reason why there isn’t a country without poverty is that there will always be some people who fall into destitution. Life circumstances change for people, and there will always be those that, perhaps due to loss of a job or poor health, lose the ability to provide for themselves. There are many instances where people can get thrown into poverty. As it’s impossible to prevent absolutely everyone from falling into hardship, every country will have some people who live in destitution.

No Country Has A Economic Model That Has Ended Poverty

A second reason why there isn’t a country without poverty is because no country has a perfect economic model that can eliminate poverty entirely. Although there have been attempts to create economic systems that end poverty, in fact there is no model that has been developed that can prevent all people from falling into destitution.

No Government Can Provide Support To Everyone In The Nation

One way that countries try to reduce poverty is by providing social welfare to people who are poor. Some countries may have strong social safety nets, like Norway, Denmark and Germany. Countries such as these have some of the lowest poverty rates in the world. However, there will always be people who slip through these systems, and so there is still poverty in countries like these.

No Elevation Strategies Can Entirely Remove Poverty

A final reason why there isn’t a country without destitution is because it’s impossible to entirely eradicate poverty. There are lots of schemes ran that aim to lift people out of poverty. Many of these are successful at improving people’s lives. However, these can never be 100% successful. There will always be people who, for a number of reasons, either cannot access, or do not benefit, from poverty reduction projects. As a result, every country will have at least some people living in poverty.

Could There Be A Country Without Poverty?

So, it’s clear that there is no country in the world without poverty. However, standards of living are rising around the world and poverty rates have fallen dramatically in the last twenty years. Does that mean we could one day see a country that has entirely eradicated destitution? Actually no, and there are a few reasons why:

  • No country could lift all people out of poverty
  • Life circumstances mean some people will always fall into poverty
  • Some non-citizens within a nation will always live in destitution
  • Anti-poverty schemes will not always work

Now let’s take a quick look at each of these…

No Country Could Lift All People Out Of Poverty

A first reason why there couldn’t be a country with no poverty is because it is impossible to eradicate poverty entirely. Although it is true that there are countries with very low levels of extreme poverty – defined as living on less than 1.90 USD a day, still even in very wealthy and progressive nations there are people who will fall between gaps in the social welfare system and find themselves in destitution.

Life Circumstances Mean Some People Will Always Fall Into Poverty

A second reason why there will never be a country without poverty is because the complexities of people’s lives mean there will always be some people who fall on hard times. It’s impossible for a state’s social safety net, or poverty elevation projects, to respond to all the events that may take places in people’s lives. As a result, there will always be some people whose life circumstances mean they will be forced into destitution.

Some Non-Citizens Within A Nation Will Always Live In Destitution

One reason why even rich nations still have people living in poverty is because social security systems are only open to citizens of that nation. This means people who immigrate to a country, especially those that do so illegally, often cannot access the state’s anti-poverty support. This is often the reason for high rates of poverty even in developed nations. As no country is going to extend its social security to non-citizens, or be able to end migration entirely, no country will ever be able to fully end poverty.

Anti-Poverty Schemes Will Not Always Work

A final reason why no country will ever be able to eradicate poverty is because poverty alleviation projects can never be entirely successful. As we’ve said, people fall into poverty for a huge range of reasons. No programme can be designed to address all of these. As a result, no nation will entirely end poverty.

Has There Ever Been A Country Without Poverty?

There has never been a country without poverty. Every nation in human history has had some people living in destitution. In fact, in the past the vast majority of humans lived in poverty and only a small elite were able to escape it. This meant that every nation actually had most people living in poverty.

In the year 1800, over 80% of the world’s population lived in what today would be defined as extreme poverty. Actually, it wasn’t until the mid-20th Century that poverty rates across the Western world began to fall significantly, and not until late 20th Century, or even into the 2000s, that poverty rates across the developed world also began to be reduced.

Most people throughout human history have lived in destitution. This means there has never been a country that has not had some poverty.

Will There Ever Be A Country Without Poverty?

There is unlikely to be a country that does not have poverty. Although many countries are able to lift most of their populations out of destitution, it is impossible for any country to entirely eradicate poverty.

As we’ve covered, there are always going to be people whose life circumstances mean they fall into poverty. Although some countries may be able to strengthen their social security systems to prevent most people from being forced into destitution when they face challenges in their lives, no system can cover for all life events. Also, there will always be people who migrate to a country and so are not covered by its social security system. These people will always be at risk of falling into destitution. As a result, it’s almost inconceivable that there could be a country that entirely rids itself of poverty.

Global Affairs Explained

Global Affairs Explained is an ongoing project aiming to provide concise guides to world events. Focusing on international relations, history, and geo-politics, Global Affairs Explained uses original research and data to answer questions often not covered by traditional media.

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