Breaking the Cycle of Intergenerational Poverty


October 17th is the "International Day for the Eradication of Poverty." When reading the preliminary version of a study published by the World Bank in 2018: Fair Progress? Educational Mobility Around the World. I found solid data on how education plays a very important role in the eradication of intergenerational poverty.

The document explains how the educational level reached by a family in a certain generation, determines the living conditions of the following ones and shows why education is, by excellence, the most effective way to break the chains that keep families in the grip of poverty, generation after generation.

‘Structural poverty’ is an intergenerational phenomenon that tends to be transmitted from one generation to another, perpetuating a culture of poverty that is difficult to improve with the simple economic growth of a country.

The aforementioned study also shows the concern that arises when verifying that the improvement in the educational level of one generation compared to the previous one has stagnated in the last 50 years.

While about half of the people born in the 80s received more and better education than their parents, those born in the 90s were affected by a deterioration in the quality of education with respect to their parents. This is especially true for developing nations.


We are experiencing a human capital crisis and we must do everything possible to create a world in which children of all countries have the opportunity to become what they want.

The foregoing highlights the relevant role that public policies play in guaranteeing equitable access for all children to quality education and services, regardless of the socioeconomic situation of their parents or the environment in which they live.

The same study points out three ways to achieve this:

1. Investing in early childhood

Investing in early childhood is one of the most effective ways to eradicate poverty, as well as being the one showing the highest rates of return.

2. Investing in initiatives aimed at this population, such as access to quality education, maternal and child health, nutrition, water supply and sanitation, infrastructure, among other key services, will undoubtedly reverse the trend of socioeconomic deterioration in families.

3. Comprehensive approach, beyond the economic

People's perceptions and beliefs obstruct their dreams and aspirations, leaving them trapped in a mindset from which it is difficult for them to get out.


4. It is essential to incorporate the approach to beliefs, life patterns and behaviors in policies and programs aimed at these populations, to transform the mental, psychological and spiritual schemes that prevent them from overcoming their situation of poverty.

5. Actions at the local level

Each person's environment influences their development, as do their parents and family. Therefore, it is necessary for programs to consider the environment where children grow up: neighborhoods, schools, infrastructure, services, gangs, crime, among many other factors that can influence a human being's ability to learn, grow and prosper.

If we do not modify the forms of approach to this problem, starting with the investment in children, especially for those who come from the most disadvantaged environments, and the improvement in the quality of the education that we provide them, as well as the comprehensive approach to the problems that affect families, it will be difficult to achieve that goal.


Recommended reading: https://www.un.org/en/observances/day-for-eradicating-poverty


Join the #EndPoverty global campaign


Everyone can join the campaign on social media by using hashtag #EndPoverty and promoting the call to action to connect with people from around the world who have joined the fight to overcome poverty.


In addition to the commemorative event to be held in New York on 17 October, commemorations of the international day are being organized worldwide. The online community is asked to use #EndPoverty to share messages about the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty via social media.


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