The difference between absolute poverty & relative poverty.

The difference between absolute poverty and relative poverty.

Poverty is often thought of absolutely but it can be relative.

Absolute poverty is the state of individuals lacking basic needs over a period. Absolute poverty is a state of danger because the person is lacking something that is needed to survive long term. This state of absolute poverty is prevalent in developing countries and rare in developed nations. For example, many people living in Ethiopia are considered to be in a state of absolute poverty. Without the intervention of other countries or organizations these people would starve and die.

Relative poverty is a subjective concept because it is the view that poverty is defined by social context. This means that poverty is a measure of income inequality. For example, in the United States poverty is mostly relative because most people can meet their basic needs. As such poverty is relative to what the person cannot obtain resource wise above his or her needs. Relative poverty is extremely subjective because a person who is in poverty in one country might see a person who is in poverty in the US as being wealthy.

Relative poverty is also measured differently than absolute poverty. Relative poverty is typically measured by income differences. For example, the US has a poverty line which is based on making under a certain amount of money annually. In contrast to relative poverty, absolute poverty is measured by a person lacking one or more vital resources for an extended period of time. These resources might include clean water, food, shelter, etc… 


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Triola Vincent. Fri, Feb 05, 2021. The difference between absolute poverty & relative poverty. Retrieved from

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