Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty
Poverty threshold
The poverty threshold, or poverty line, is the minimum level of income deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living in a given country...

 or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs
Basic needs
The basic needs approach is one of the major approaches to the measurement of absolute poverty. It attempts to define the absolute minimum resources necessary for long-term physical well-being, usually in terms of consumption goods. The poverty line is then defined as the amount of income...

, which commonly includes clean and fresh water
Drinking water
Drinking water or potable water is water pure enough to be consumed or used with low risk of immediate or long term harm. In most developed countries, the water supplied to households, commerce and industry is all of drinking water standard, even though only a very small proportion is actually...

, nutrition
Nutrition is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet....

, health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

, education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live in absolute poverty today. Relative poverty refers to lacking a usual or socially acceptable level of resources or income as compared with others within a society or country.
For most of history poverty had been mostly accepted as inevitable as traditional modes of production were insufficient to give an entire population a comfortable standard of living
Standard of living
Standard of living is generally measured by standards such as real income per person and poverty rate. Other measures such as access and quality of health care, income growth inequality and educational standards are also used. Examples are access to certain goods , or measures of health such as...


In truth, poverty is an anomaly to rich people. It is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell.

Walter Bagehot, The Waverley Novels (1858)

Come away; poverty’s catching.

Aphra Behn (1640-1689), English dramatist, The Rover, Pt. 2. I. (1681)

There is a solitude in poverty, but a solitude which restores to each thing its value.

Albert Camus (1913-1960), French philosopher. ‘Between Yes and No’, World Review magazine, March 1950

There's no scandal like rags, nor any crime so shameful as poverty.

George Farquhar|George Farquhar, The Beaux' Stratagem, Act I, sc. i. (1707)

For the first time in our history it is possible to conquer poverty.

Lyndon B. Johnson's Special Message to Congress (March 16, 1964)

Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se Quam quod ridiculos homines facit. Poverty is bitter, but it has no harder pang than that it makes men ridiculous.

Juvenal, Satires, iii. 152

The greatest of evils and the worst of crimes is poverty.

Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara (1906), preface

Poverty is no discrace to a man, but it is confoundedly inconvenient.

Reverand Samuel F. Smith (1808-1895), American Baptist minister and author. His Wit and Wisdom

To be broke is not a disgrace, it is only a catastrophe.

Rex Stout, as stated by the character, Nero Wolfe in Nero WolfeThe League of Frightened Men|The League of Frightened Men (1935)