Here are 32 Poverty facts.

1-5 Poverty Facts

1. In the 1930’s, amidst widespread poverty, flour mills realized that some woman was using sacks to make clothes for their children. In response, the flour mills started using fabric with flowers printed on for their sacks. – Source

2. America’s poverty line was designed with the thought that every American household had a housewife who was a skilled cook and has only ever been adjusted for inflation. – Source

3. North Carolina performed forced sterilizations well into the 1970s to combat poverty and welfare costs. If their board deemed you mentally defective, that was their solution. –

4. The term “third world country” has nothing to do with poverty, it simply refers to countries after WW2 that did not align with either the Western US aligned coalition or the Soviet bloc. – Source

5. William Kamkwamba aged 14, learned how to build an electricity-producing windmill from spare parts and scrap from information gained in library books, after being forced to drop out of school due to poverty. – Source

6-10 Poverty Facts

6. The world population living in extreme poverty went from 94% of the world population in 1820, down to 9.6% of the world population in 2015. – Source

7. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once called poverty “a personality defect.” – Source

8. The first person ever to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive was Annie Taylor on October 24, 1901. She hoped her feat would bring her fame and fortune but she died in poverty. – Source

9. NBA players do not tend to come from poverty. Contrary to stereotype, “Growing up in a wealthier neighborhood is a major, positive predictor of reaching the NBA.” Black NBA players are about 30% less likely to have an unwed or teenage mother. – Source

10. In the US, drying laundry on a line is seen as a sign of poverty rather than common sense. – Source

11-15 Poverty Facts

11. In 2001, Saddam Hussein offered $94 million in humanitarian aid to Americans living in poverty. – Source

12. US Families living in extreme poverty (living on less than $2 per day excluding govt. benefits) has doubled to 1.5 million since 1996. – Source

13. Vivien Thomas overcame poverty and racism to become a pioneer in cardiac surgery at Johns Hopkins without any education past high school. – Source

14. Dustin Hoffman’s aunt warned him “You can’t be an actor. You are not good-looking enough.” When discussing ‘The Graduate’ (1967), his first starring role, ‘Life’ magazine joked that “if Dustin Hoffman’s face were his fortune, he’d be committed to a life of poverty”. – Source

15. The lobster was fed to slaves because it was considered a mark of poverty. – Source

16-20 Poverty Facts

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16. John Rabe who helped saved 200,000 Chinese lives during World War 2, had to rely on Chinese care packages after the 2nd World War as he and his family were living in poverty. – Source

17. Canada had a program where they paid everyone a guaranteed income which wholly reduced poverty overnight and increased productivity. – Source

18. Children living below the federal poverty line are more likely to have a psychiatric disorder. – Source

19. From 1989-2003 Five secrets ‘keyholders’ protected a vault in Afghanistan filled with ancient Afghan treasures. They withstood poverty, Taliban threats and torture protecting their cultural heritage. – Source

20. The two African-American athletes who gave the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics were also shoeless during the protest. This was to represent black poverty. – Source

21-25 Poverty Facts

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21. Hellen Keller was a radical socialist and crusader against poverty and discrimination. – Source

22. New research suggests that extreme weather is the most important cause of poverty. – Source

23. “Hipsters” were originally aficionados of jazz in the 1940s. “The hipster adopted the lifestyle of the jazz musician, including some or all of the following:  self-imposed poverty, dress, slang, use of cannabis and other drugs, relaxed attitude, sarcastic humor, and relaxed sexual codes.” – Source

24. Even though many people cite the PISA test scores as a source that Americans are behind in education, the test scores show that Americans beat every other OECD country when controlling for poverty in schools. – Source

25. Between 2007-2008, Staple food prices rose by an estimated 78% globally, forcing over 100 Million people in developing countries into poverty. – Source

26-30 Poverty Facts

26. Sylvester Stallone sold his dog for 40$ because of poverty. A short time later he made money from selling the Rocky script and bought the dog back for 15.000$, losing heavily on his investment. He could have bought 375 new dogs for the same amount. – Source

27. Alcan, Alaska, solely consist of US Customs employees and families at a Canadian border crossing. It has zero unemployment or poverty, $77K median income for men and $0 for women and the population of 33. – Source

28. Clarence Louie pulled his Native reserve out of poverty by starting companies and encouraging economic growth within the community. – Source

29. Scotland had independence as late as 1700 but united with England due to poverty brought about in part from a failed mission to colonize Panama. – Source

30. Lunik IX, a borough of the Slovakian city of Košice has a poverty rate so high that unemployment is close to 100 percent. Gas, water, and electricity service have been cut off for the entire area, and bus drivers receive hazard pay for taking routes through the district. – Source

31-32 Poverty Facts

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31. In religious Judaism, it is considered taboo for the daughter of a cohen (priest) to marry someone who isn’t a cohen. The belief is that such a marriage would result in poverty or the death of the groom. – Source

32. In 2015, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and dozens of other AI experts signed an open letter calling for research on the societal impacts of AI. The letter argues that while it can eradicate poverty and disease, we must also be careful not to create something which can’t be controlled. – Source


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Fact List, Our World,

Last Update: October 18, 2017