Pauperism is a situation in which a large part of a country or region is in poverty. Although there are no globally standardized parameters to determine if we are facing this scenario.
In other words, pauperism means that an important group is classified as poor. However, there is no globally accepted minimum or maximum income that allows us to clarify that.
In any case, what is certain is that the most common indicator to measure poverty is average income. But this variable can be misleading because it does not take into account other factors such as the cost of the basic food basket, access to basic services, among others. Furthermore, as it is a mean calculation, it does not take into account possible extreme values or inequalities.
In that sense, we must emphasize that it is not only the average income of the inhabitants of a country that matters, but the amount of goods or services they can buy. This is known as purchasing power.
Seen in another way, as a general rule, if two countries have the same level of average income, people will have greater well-being where prices are lower.
Characteristics of pauperism
Among the characteristics of pauperism are:
- There is a food deficiency, which can translate into high malnutrition or anemia.
- It is related to economic underdevelopment. In other words, it implies a low level of gross domestic product (GDP), as well as high illiteracy, little access to higher education, a high rate of infant mortality (compared to other countries), among others.
- It is related to low industrialization. In other words, the countries in this category usually concentrate their economic activity in the primary or extractive sector. Thus, they are highly dependent on the exploitation of one (or a few) product (s).
- The Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) defines it as a persistent situation of poverty. This means that there may be a structural component that prevents the nation from achieving greater economic growth. It may be, for example, that there is a high level of corruption in the public sector or a permanent conflict between two social groups.
Regions in pauperism
The term pauperism is little used and there is no specific indicator to measure it. However, we can take as a reference the Human Development Index (HDI), prepared by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
This indicator measures the possibilities of economic growth of a country. This, based on variables such as GDP per capita, life expectancy and level of education.
Thus, the HDI places African countries in the last places. However, this does not mean that there is no pauperism in other continents such as Haiti in America.