Is Poverty Your Fault?

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A well-known study, conducted in 2013 by PEW Charitable Trusts, found that 70% of those born and raised in poverty, remain poor as adults. This “cycle of poverty” continues, generation after generation.

This data flies in the face of the notion that, at least in America, anyone can become financially successful so long as they work very hard. In other words, if you’re poor, all you have to do is work your ass off and you’ll no longer be poor.

So, naturally, those who embrace the America Dream, assume the poor are poor because they simply don’t work hard enough.

The fact is, the poor remain poor because the deck is stacked against them in a number of ways:

  • Inferior Education – The poor often lack of access to good schools (and good teachers), as children. Public Schools in poor neighborhoods don’t have the necessary resources that allow them to provide a good education. This is why so many poor parents are clamoring for Charter Schools in their poor communities. Charter Schools do a much better job educating the poor than public schools. That’s just a fact.
  • Single Parenting – About 50% of the households in poor communities are single-parent households. One parent is carrying all the load and typically that is the Mother.
  • Toxic Stress – Children raised in poor households are under constant “toxic” stress. This stress is not normal and impairs brain development in children. In other words, the brains of children born and raised in poor households are physiologically damaged due to the toxic stress poverty creates.
  • Poor Nutrition – Those struggling in poverty have unhealthy diets. Some of this is due to lack of money, but some of this is also habit-driven.
  • Poor Health – Those in poverty forge more unhealthy health habits than those not struggling with poverty.
  • Lack of Exercise – Those struggling with poverty cannot afford to pay for organized sporting activities for their children and the schools in poor communities do not have adequate resources to fund extracurricular activities for their poor students. Thus, children raised in poor communities do not have the ability to engage in consistent extracurricular physical activities as often as the non-poor.
  • Career Opportunities – The poor live among the poor. They have less access to Influencers (successful, wealthy people) who can open doors for them. This lack of “connections” to Influencers means fewer opportunities for internships for poor college students.

So, no. Poverty is not your fault.

What is your fault, however, is accepting your lot in life as an adult. While being poor as a child most definitely stacks the deck against you, it does not prevent you from reshuffling that deck, as an adult.

What Can You Do to End Your Poverty as an Adult?

  • Read to Learn 30 minutes or more every day – This daily self-improvement will help you gain the knowledge you need to lift yourself out of poverty.
  • Create a Clear Vision of your new future – Define, in words, exactly what you would like your ideal, future life to be. This creates a clear vision that acts as a blueprint for creating a new, better life.
  • Volunteer – Many of those “connections” that were unavailable to you as a child, sit on the board of directors in local, community-based non-profits. Volunteering gets you access to these Influencers.
  • Forge Rich Habits – Self-made wealthy people adopted certain habits that helped them grow into the individuals they needed to be in order to become successful.
  • Start Exercising – Daily aerobic exercise helps grow your brain and your IQ. That is a fact. As an adult, failure to exercise is a choice, and no longer a limitation imposed upon you from your upbringing.
  • Learn New Skills – While you may have been limited in learning new sills as a child, as an adult you’re in charge. You can develop a new skill every three months, thanks to the Internet. Just spend 30 minutes a day on YouTube watching how-to videos. Then practice that new skill every day for three months, until you master it. If you’re skilled, someone will hire you and pay you a fair wage for your skills. Using this strategey, you can develop one new skill every three months. Through experimentation, you will eventually find some new skill that you love to engage in. When that happens, passion (emotional energy) will take over and that passion will fuel you to become a Virtuoso in that skill-set.



  1. John Schwager on February 22, 2021 at 7:33 AM

    Good piece of work Tom. I agree wholeheartedly. People can overcome bad childhoods and miracle s happen

  2. Diane on February 22, 2021 at 7:46 AM

    I appreciate this article. I grew up poor and as the youngest child of 5, was the only one to graduate college. I agree that education is important and I believe being educated in both a traditional (ie: community college or a university) and non traditional (ie: YouTube, blogs like this one, etc.) is what helped me break out of the poverty cycle. As an adult, I now make a 6-figure income and provide for my kids in a way that I am very happy with. To whoever might still be in party. My heart is with you and am rooting for you. Don’t give up!