The Costs of Poverty

April 27, 2015
Issue Brief: The Cost of Poverty

Some of the impacts of poverty are obvious—including food insecurity, poor quality housing, and violence. But poverty has other impacts that are not so obvious. A recent piece from The Brookings Institution takes a closer look at some of the costs of poverty in America, including stress, unhappiness, and chronic pain.

 “Good” Stress Versus “Bad” Stress

Most people have some level of stress in their lives, but there is a big difference between “good” stress and “bad” stress.

Stress related to pursuing goals and moving forward in life is good. But stress that comes from an inability to cope with one’s daily reality or move ahead with setting and achieving goals is bad stress. People living with bad stress also report lower levels of life satisfaction and worse health than their good stress peers. Unsurprisingly, low-income individuals report experiencing much more bad stress than middle and upper-class Americans do.

The Consequences of Stress

Stress has real consequences. Maternal stress is associated with lower birth rates and poor child development. This negative impact of stress is just one of many ways that poverty and disadvantage are passed on to future generations if nothing is done to interrupt the cycle.

Low-income individuals are also much more likely than the wealthy to report experiencing frequent worry, sadness, and anger. But the problem also goes beyond just emotion. Low-income individuals also are twice as likely to report chronic physical pain and up to five times more likely to report extreme pain.

tCI’s Impact: Climbing Out of Poverty

Given its many and increasing costs, it is crucial that we give people the tools they need to thrive. tCI serves high-poverty communities with the goal of making real, sustained change—from the Bread of Life Food Pantry which helps families keep food on the table to Holy Cross’ parenting programs that help parents learn to deal with stress.

Please support tCI today. Make a donation to the tCI program of your choice, and join our email list to stay informed about the ways tCI helps reduce the stress of poverty in at-risk communities.

 email sign up donate