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In economics, the cycle of poverty is the "set of factors or events by which poverty, once started, is likely to continue unless there is outside intervention".<ref name="Hutchinson"/>

The cycle of poverty has been defined as a phenomenon where poor families become impoverished for at least three generations, i.e. for enough time that the family includes no surviving ancestors who possess and can transmit the intellectual, social, and cultural capital necessary to stay out of or change their impoverished condition. In calculations of expected generation length and ancestor lifespan, the lower median age of parents in these families is offset by the shorter lifespans in many of these groups.

Such families have either limited or no resources. There are many disadvantages that collectively work in a circular process making it virtually impossible for individuals to break the cycle.<ref>Marger (2008). Examples of these disadvantages working in a circular process would be: economic decline, low personal income, no funds for school, which leads to lack of education. The lack of education results in unemployment and lastly low national productivity. ‘‘Social Inequality: Patterns and Processes.’’ McGraw Hill publishing. 4th edition. ISBN 0-07-352815-3</ref> This occurs when poor people do not have the resources necessary to get out of poverty, such as financial capital, education, or connections. In other words, impoverished individuals do not have access to economic and social resources as a result of their poverty. This lack may increase their poverty. This could mean that the poor remain poor throughout their lives.<ref name="Hutchinson">Hutchinson Encyclopedia, Cycle of poverty</ref> This cycle has also been referred to as a "pattern" of behaviors and situations which cannot easily be changed.<ref>Valentine, C. A. Culture and Poverty. University of Chicago: London, 1968.</ref>

The poverty cycle can be called the "development trap" when it is applied to countries.<ref name="Hutchinson"/>

Ruby K. Payne, author of A Framework for Understanding Poverty, distinguishes between situational poverty, which can generally be traced to a specific incident within the lifetimes of the person or family members in poverty, and generational poverty, which is a cycle that passes from generation to generation, and goes on to argue that generational poverty has its own distinct culture and belief patterns.<ref>Payne, R. (2005). A framework for understanding poverty (4th edition). Highland, TX: aha! Process, Inc.</ref>


Cycle of poverty sections
Intro  Causes of the cycle  Family background  Theories and strategies for breaking the cycle of poverty  Effects on children  See also  References  

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