14 Ways Society Keeps Poor People Trapped in Poverty

The idea that the poor get poorer as the rich get richer fills the media, but they rarely provide concrete examples of how that happens. 

Here, we showcase 14 laws and policies work to keep poor people trapped in poverty. 

Fees for Driving

A teenage boy driving with his mom in the passenger seat.
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The government says driving is a privilege, not a right, but that privilege is a lot harder for folks in poverty. Fees to register and inspect a vehicle are tough to come by for folks struggling on minimum wage, and they’re out of luck if a costly repair comes up during the inspection. 

Annual Rent Increases

A modern looking apartment complex.
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Many low-wage workers fear resigning their lease, knowing that most places are raising rents. They may be forced to move if they can’t afford the increase, which costs even more money. 

Wage Stagnation

Sad man in a suit showing an empty wallet.
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The constant rent increases wouldn’t be so devastating if wages increased to match inflation. The price of everything except labor is rising. The minimum wage hasn’t increased in decades. 

Lower Quality Items

Fingers poking through a hole in cloth to show the poor quality.
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Poor folks can’t afford to buy quality, lasting products. Instead, they have to buy the cheap stuff and replace it regularly, costing them more in the long run. 

Bulk Buying

man holding 7 roll of toilet paper in his arms
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Most things are cheaper in bulk, but the poorest among us who live hand to mouth can’t buy in bulk. 

Expensive Education

The administrative building at Southern Mississippi University at dawn.
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Advanced education is out of reach for millions of Americans. College is barely affordable for middle-class kids, who must take out massive loans to pay for schooling. It’s a pipe dream for poor kids. 

Lack of education makes it harder to dig out of poverty, as these kids can’t dream of entering high-paying professions requiring a degree. 

Welfare Cliff

Hands holding a tablet that says "government aid" on it.
assistance, welfare, snap, programs

The welfare cliff makes improving yourself nearly impossible. People risk losing all their benefits if they make just a penny too much. 

Food Deserts

Platter of taquitos.
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Many low-income people live in food deserts, where they only have access to overpriced, unhealthy processed food. It costs them more to feed themselves, but they don’t have the time or money to get to grocery stores. 

Payday Loans

A calculator sits next to a pile of money with a post it note on top that reads "personal loan."
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We don’t understand how predatory payday loans are legal. They target poor, desperate people who can’t get credit elsewhere and charge outrageous interest and fees. 

Overdraft “Protection”

A banker holding a ledger labeled "overdraft fees."
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Banks charge poor folks fees upon fees to access their money and even more if they happen to overdraft. And, of course, banks will charge the largest purchase first, ensuring they collect as many overdraft fees in a single day as possible. 

Late Fees

A hundred dollar bill rolled up and tagged with a cardboard tag labeled "fees."
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People who must juggle the bills must pay more in added late fees. It’s either pay the extra fees or lose an essential utility. 

Interest Rates

Wooden blocks stacked in a little staircase with the top of each block having a little percentage sign on it. An arrow rests on the staircase pointing up.
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Poor people often have poor credit, which means they pay more for loans than rich people. Companies take extra risks by lending to struggling people, but the additional costs for everything make it even harder for them to get ahead in life. 

Staying Healthy

Smiling healthy woman eating a salad.
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Poor people struggle to make healthy choices because they can’t afford them. They can’t afford healthy food or see a doctor for a minor problem. They can’t afford dental work. Therefore, they wait until a minor issue becomes a massive (far more expensive) problem. 

Banking in General

A large corporate building with lots of glass windows and the label "Bank" on the top.
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Many impoverished people can’t even afford a bank due to the fees banks charge if you don’t meet their criteria (which many poor folks can’t). People who don’t have bank accounts have to pay fees to cash their checks or rely on prepaid cards, which also charge fees. No matter what they do, they must pay to access their money. 

Find out more about how banks hurt poor people

Yes, There is a Real Poverty Trap in America

hands holding an empty wallet to represent poverty
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We often think of third world countries when we talk about poverty, but it’s thriving right here in the US.

Here’s the truth about America’s Poverty Trap.

Top Things We Aren’t Buying Because of Inflation

Woman biting her lip while holding open an empty wallet on a blue background.
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We learned these staples we used to buy regularly are actually luxury items. Here are the top items everyone stopped buying because of inflation

The Truth About Generational Poverty

Father smiling as his son puts coins in a piggy bank.
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Generational poverty is just as real as generational wealth. Here’s a look at generational poverty in America

How To Set and Slay Your Financial Goals!

piggy bank and money jar next to a chalkboard that reads "financial goals" on a blue background
Photo Credit: kenary820 via Shutterstock.com.

Determining your financial goals and making a plan to achieve them is essential for a happy life. Here are some examples of financial goals to set and how to achieve them

Source: Reddit