Followinga research carried out on the issue on poverty by various analystsacross the world, this paper examines in depth, the effect of povertyon children. There are variations however depending on what countrythe child is from but in this case the countries of concern areSingapore and The United Kingdom. Why the two countries? There isneed to examine the critical levels of poverty in the two countriesbecause despite them being among the world’s fastest growingeconomies, the number of people living below poverty level is large.This is a compilation of different analyses done by concernedresearchers across the world from articles, internet links, books,magazines and peer reviewed journals, in the examination of howpoverty stricken children are affected all round. Results from thestudy show that poverty can be avoided when the right schemes ofdevelopment are put in place and when the governments in questiontake charge to eliminate poverty. Causes of poverty can be lookedinto and poor children helped to get back on their feet.
KeywordsFamilyincome, Child health, Poverty, Cognitive Ability, Gini coefficient.
Singaporeis a republic located in Southeast Asia. It is an island ofapproximately 710 square kilometers. Singapore is located away fromthe Malay Peninsula southern tip and in between the Indian Ocean andthe sea of South China. There are 58 islands nearby, Singapore beingone of the smallest. Singapore is a bustling city composed of peoplefrom all over the world. It is dynamic in nature with cultures, arts,cuisine and architecture blended with complete harmony. Singapore isstrategically positioned such that it has become the most importantsea port along shipping routes that are considered major (McColl2005).
Thereare four main races in Singapore and a population of around fivemillion people. English is the language commonly spoken in Singaporedespite the four races (Eurasian, Malay, Indian and Chinese). Chineseare the majority of inhabitants making about 74.2% of the wholepopulation. In the country the four races observe a high degree ofharmony and mutual understanding among themselves. The diversity ofethnicity is a form of strength to the people living in Singapore asthey are brought together by their motto: Many races, one Singapore.Bahasa, Malay or Melayu languages are the national languages ofSingapore and this is in honor of the indigenous community which isthe Malay people. As a result, Singapore has a diverse mode of livingand that includes cultural activities food and even religion (McColl2005).
TheUnited Kingdom consists of four countries namely England, NorthernIreland, Wales and Scotland which also makes up The Great Britain(Grant2012).London is the capital city of the UK as well as that of England. TheUnited Kingdom has its population estimated at 63 million across thefour countries. The UK stretches from the islands of Shetland locatedaway from the Scotland’s north coast and goes down to Scilly Islesfound on the south west of England all the way across the NorthernIreland Sea. It has a long coastline of about 5,000 miles. Theheritage within the UK is fascinating and dates back to 6500BC. Thereare monuments all over the UK which mark a time in history. TheBuckingham Palace and the Stonehenge are some examples of themonuments.
Theeconomy of the UK is rated among the world’s leading locations ofbusiness and the leading destination where inward investment iscarried out within Europe. It has enormous industries for lifesciences in Europe and is among the world’s top ten manufacturers.The language spoken within the UK is English although other languageswhich are official include Gaelic, Welsh and Scots.
Povertyin Singapore and the UK
Povertycan be defined as a condition whereby one experiences monetarydeficiency or even deficiency of goods. It could also mean not havingenough of ingredients or qualities that are desirable in humansurvival and also means of support for one (Townsend 2014). Inequalityis a referral to the rift that divides different social classes of asociety. This could be in terms of capital or income. The Ginicoefficient expresses income inequality (Varshavsky2014). It is a method that helps in comparing the various inequality levelsin different countries or cities. For Singapore, the Gini coefficientshows that there is a rise in inequality within the country (Blanden& Machin 2008). It does not however reveal the cause. Among other several factorsthat have been identified as having caused a potential increase inlevels of inequality are the strategies designed economically toaccomplish growth rates that are high and the country’s meritocracysystem. Singapore has cases of both relative and absolute poverty(INCOMEGROWTH, INEQUALITY AND MOBILITY TRENDS IN SINGAPORE August 2015).In the case of the United Kingdom, the Gini Coefficient is observedto rise. At the moment the coefficient is higher than any other timein a history of thirty years. Inner London has a deep division withthe highest proportion of people who earn a low income and an equallyhigh proportion who earn a high income. This is the same case as thatof Singapore as the rise in the Gini coefficient indicates higherlevels of inequality.
Causesof poverty in Singapore and the UK
Becauseof its strategic location, Singapore, over a few decades, evolved andmanaged to be among the financial centers found in Southeast Asia.Thanks to the country’s government which concentrated on upgradingSingapore’s economic status to maintain an edge that is competitiveenough and international standards of economy. The growth mainlyinvolved manufacturing on a value-added that is higher, then a shiftto a community that is based on knowledge (Donaldsonet al. 2013). These upgrades made successful its economy but did not benefit allstrata of the population locally inhabiting the country. The localworkers could not upgrade their skills as fast as the rate at whichthe economy was forced to grow therefore many were left unemployeddue to inadequacy of skill. The economy grew very rapidly hence theneed for workers with skills relevant to the growing economy(Donaldsonet al. 2013). Thelocal population could not meet that requirement so the governmentwent for foreign workforce which most workers of Singaporean originwould need a higher pay. This has led to a rise in poverty in thesense that the price of housing shot up, jobs which were supposed tobe available to citizens of the country were taken and too many spotswere taken by foreigners at local schools. This led to a publicdiscontent among Singaporeans creating too much friction
Inthe case of the UK, the fastest growing economy has been recordedsince 2007. More or else a similar case as Singapore, the rampantgrowth of economy leads to inequality. Inequality causes poverty inthe sense that there is a gap between different strata of the society(OXFAM2015).
Atax policy by the Singapore government has been put in place tosupport growth of the economy. The policy is mainly inclusive oflowering corporate tax rates levels, personal income tax lowered andcapital gains tax done away with. Many Singaporeans who are employeddo not pay income taxes and the rates of taxation are directlyproportional to the income. The higher the income the higher the taxrates. (Clausing2012).The tax system becomes regressive when personal income is put intoconsideration alongside taxation that is indirect (Goods and ServicesTax). Indirect taxation affects lower income groupsdisproportionately since it is the same for all strata and itevidently takes more from those people found lower in the incomespectrum. The groups with lower income are overburdened by theregressive tax. The issue of indirect taxation affecting those wholive below the poverty line is common all over the world whichimplies that even in the United Kingdom the same modes of regressivetaxation affects poor people hence causing them more burden thanenough (Devereuxet al. 2014).Taxpolicies in both countries favor the wealthy and as a result, thosewho live in poverty keep dwelling in the same.
Culturalreasons also cause the rise in inequality in Singapore. There is ahigh value for meritocracy in Singapore (Vadaketh& Low 2014). This is mainly what people believe that success is based upon one’smerit (Lewis2013.) Fora fair meritocratic system, there should be equal opportunities tocorrect structural inequalities. If not, merit unrelated factors havea significant role in outcome determination. If a society has astrong belief in a system of meritocracy and takes inadequate stepsin the correction of starting points that are unequal, thenindividuals’ successes and failures, and from time to time ofgroups of people, may be attributed to merit in an unjust way ratherthan to social advantage or disadvantage.
Unlikein the Singapore, in UK, there is no belief in meritocracy. It isconsidered as bad as nepotism and any other form of practice that candestroy a nation so everybody is given a chance to grow withoutjudging by academic merit. It is even referred to as a myth. This asa result is not applicable to the UK and it has no effect on itspoverty levels (Saddler2014).
Povertyaffecting children in Singapore and the UK
Studiesassociate poverty within the family and health in children, theirbehavior and achievement. However, not many studies manage to measurewhat effects timing, duration and depth of poverty have on thesechildren. Because children depend on others, they avoid poverty bymeans of the circumstances of the economy in their families. Theycannot alter by themselves the conditions of their families untilthey approach adulthood. Government programs have been put in placeto ensure that children are provided with necessities (Courtney1998).Even with such programs in place poor children can never fare as wellas those whose families are above the poverty line (Katz2004).
Poorchildren have experiences of diminished physical health. This can bemeasured using health status indicators and outcomes, for example,low birth weight, infant deaths, lead poisoning, stunted growth andmany others (Ridge2002).Lowbirth weight is associated with physical disabilities, disabilitiesduring learning and repeating grades when growing up. Children whohave low birth weights are also the ones prone to infant mortality.Stunted growth comes about as a result of malnutrition andstarvation. It could also show due to deficits in the nutritionalstatus of children. Long-term poverty measures cause the differencein height with age between poor and non-poor children. Lead poisoningis common among the poor since children inhale the lead dust found inpaint that is health deteriorating at a very early age (UNICEF2015).
Belowthe poverty level, children experience learning disabilities and havedelayed development. This is as a result of low IQ’s which areaffected during very early stages of development. Poverty that islong term has more adverse effects on the children’s cognitiveability measures than most of the short-term or one time poverty(YOUNGMINDS 2015).
Whata child attains in education is directly related to the experienceslater in life. Poverty limits achievement in schools (UNICEF2015).Related to a number of factors confounding such as family structure,parental education and characteristics within the neighborhood, areincome and schooling. Once a child attains a school going age,extra-familial environments begin to matter more than conditionswithin the family. Achievement that is school related is highlydependent on both a child’s behavior and ability. The timing ofeconomic deprivation is also crucial in gauging achievement. Familyincome varies over time. According to a recent study, family incomethat averages from the point of birth to age five for example, ismuch more influential upon the number of years a child completes inschool as compared to family income that is measured between the ageof 5 and 10 or even 11 and 15. Increment in family income later inthe life of a child does not have any significant effects (UNICEF2015).
Emotionaland behavioral outcomes
Thereis a frequent struggle of emotional and behavioral imbalances in poorchildren. Under emotional outcomes, there can either be externalizingbehaviors or internalizing behaviors. Externalizing behaviors includeaggression, acting out, fighting among others. On the other hand,internalizing behaviors are such as depression, social withdrawal andanxiety. This is according to reports by parents and teachers.Children in families that are persistently poor have moreinternalizing and externalizing problems (Bartlettet al. 1999).Even though short term poverty is associated with behavioralproblems, the effects are not comparable to those associated withlong term poverty. According to a study, for four to eight year oldspoverty that is persistent, (specific percentage of years duringwhich a child lived below the threshold of poverty) was related tothe symptoms of internalizing problems for example anxiety,dependence and feelings of unhappiness. This is even after havingcontrolled the current poverty status, the age of the mother, maritalstatus and education (Tisdallet al. 2009).Currentpoverty in contrast, although not persistent poverty, was associatedto more externalizing problems like hyperactivity, headstrongbehavior and conflict among peers. It is however notable that effectsof poverty on outcomes emotionally are not as adverse as those oncognitive ability (Sargeant& Harcourt 2012). Thereis still need therefore to better the understanding of therelationship between how children behave emotionally (Wells2009).
Childbearing out of wedlock.
Thisis a problem common to many teens. Negative consequences are incurredby both mothers and children who are directly associated with unwedteen mothers’ births. The research that relates bearing childrenout of wedlock to income is not conclusive (Childrenand Society 2010). Achild’s poverty experiences are not predictive of whether they willbear children during teenage years or not but the probability is highenough. There are potential ways through which children can be bornout of wedlock. A poor girl out of desperation, may decide to makeends meet by indulging in prostitution or even immature sexualcontacts for money. This eventually leads to misery as the girlstruggles with poverty to raise the child. Such encounters do nottake poverty away but rather makes life much more difficult forchildren who are growing up (Childrenand Society. 2008).
Theeffect of poverty on children is adverse in the United Kingdom as itis in the island of Singapore. No poor child is safe and as they cryout for help, organizations like the World Bank step into theirrescue(The World Bank 2015). They help a great deal in alleviating human suffering and ensuringcomfort for the number of children they can reach out to all over theworld. Income policies and such support programs have an immediateimpact on poor children and their living conditions. Support shouldbe directed to families living below the poverty line and mostespecially, to be able to shape the future of some of the children,elimination of poverty at a very early age (Barnado’s 2015)
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