Characteristics of Poor Households
Generally, households with lowest income per person tend to be large, with many children or economically dependent members. Over a typical year, the poor spend nearly all their income on consumption of one sort or another and half of this consumption is likely to be in the form of food. Naturally the relative prices of food staples (food grains, dhalls, oil, vegetables) are crucial to their welfare. Poor households generally invest in education for boys than for girls. The poor play little part in politics. In one sense they are disenfranchised. Of course, there are some exceptional cases. Crime, ill-health and lack of access to the poor are considered other correlates of poverty.
In many countries, poverty is correlated with caste and race. The scheduled caste and tribal people in India and the Blacks in the USA are classic examples.
The extent of poverty in a country depend mainly on two factors:
(1) the average level of national income and (2) the degree of inequality in its distribution.
Poverty Line refers to the minimum income, consumption, or, more generally access to goods and services below which individuals are considered to be poor. The poverty line is the expenditure level at which a minimum calorie intake and indispensable non-food purchases are assured.
It may be noted that even among the poor, there are differences in the degrees of poverty. So the focus of the government policies should be on the poorest of the poor.
Nutrition based poverty lines are used in many countries.