Poverty can be addressed with Economic Justice


“As people of faith, we believe we are one family, not competing classes. We are sisters and brothers, not economic units or statistics. We must come together around the values of our faith to shape economic policies that protect human life, promote strong families, expand a stable middle class, create decent jobs, and reduce the level of poverty and need in our society…. the moral test of our society is how the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable are faring. And by this standard we are falling far short.”

                                                                                                                                         A Decade After Economic Justice for All

                                                                                                                                         National Catholic Conference of Bishops, Nov. 14, 1995



Domestic Poverty

Although the economy of the United State is the wealthiest to have ever existed in the history of civilization, the problems of domestic and international poverty continue.


As stated in the U.S. Census Bureau report, Poverty in the United States: 2000, “having a job, even a full-time job, does not guarantee an escape from poverty.” 31 million Americans are living in a state of poverty. The poverty threshold is defined as a family of four with an annual household income of $17,184 or less. Children have a higher poverty rate than those in any other age group. The proportion of poor children who live in families where someone worked throughout the year soared to 37% in 2000. 1 in 6 American children live in poverty.

US Census Bureau March 2001

Poverty in the USA touches all localities:

in suburban America, 8.3% of all residents are defined as living in poverty; in rural America, 13.4%; and inside central cities, the poverty rate stands at 16.1% of all residents.

US Census Bureau, Current Population Survey
March 2000

The gap between rich and poor in America continues to grow wider. In 1993, the highest 20% of households increased their incomes by $10,000. The poorest 20 % of household had an income decrease of $1,200 (A Decade After Economic Justice for All). This trend has continued throughout the 1990’s. Being poor in America means having lack of access to housing, food, health care, quality education and living wage jobs.


International Poverty


Being poor in the world means being part of 1.3 billion people who live on less than $365 per year (Anand, Sudhir and Amartya Sen, ” H

uman Poverty: A Note”, Background Paper Prepared for the 1997 Human Development Report, 1996).


International trends such as globalization of the economy, militarization of developing countries, and urbanization have notameliorated international poverty. Access to safe drinking water, food of sufficient calories to maintain life, basic health care including vaccination programs, literacy programs and housing in peaceful surroundings is but a goal to many people on the continents of Asia, Africa and South America.


The reality of international poverty is high infant mortality rates, starvation, labor exploitation, short life expectancy and violent environments.




Economic Justice Resources:


Domestic Poverty


Catholic Charities USA


US Bishops


Bread for the World


Catholic Relief Services

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