Poverty Mentality

A poverty mentality stems from external conditions, like not having enough food, clean water, education and resources to meet basic, daily needs. But the mindset is perpetuated through people’s thoughts about their circumstances, tainting their outlook on the future. It becomes a vicious cycle.

“When people perceive that they cannot move out of poverty, they are less likely to take the necessary steps to do so—their perceptions impede their aspirations, keeping them trapped,” the World Bank reports.[1]

Food, water, money and other scarcities make people focus only on present needs. As a result, parents might overemphasize the value of their children gathering water or working, rather than obtaining an education.

A poverty mindset “overvalue(s) immediate benefits at the expense of future ones … We only attend to urgent things and fail to make small investments even when future benefits can be substantial. To attend to the future requires cognitive resources, which scarcity depletes,” according to Psychology Today.[2]

Therefore, part of breaking the cycle of poverty involves changing people’s attitudes and beliefs about what can benefit them the most.

“It is critical to incorporate behavioral insights into policies and programs, to better reach those who have been left behind in the development process,” according to the World Bank.[3]

GFA World changes people’s perceptions by introducing them to the Bible. Through Scripture, they discover that God deeply loves them. They see how Jesus cared for the needy. They can read Bible passages with promises of salvation, like: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God belongs to you. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” (Luke 6:20-21 NET).

GFA also attends to people’s basic needs, like food, clean water and outdoor toilets, so they can place their focus on activities that will move them out of poverty, such as gaining an education and vocational skills. Physical and mental interventions like those GFA provides, along with the knowledge of God’s loving care for them, give people faith and hope. This allows them to take the next steps into a future where they thrive, rather than fight to survive.

Learn more about the Poverty Mindset

[1] “World Bank Urges Action to Break the Cycle of Poverty from Generation to Generation.” World Bank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2017/10/17/world-bank-urges-action-to-break-the-cycle-of-poverty-from-generation-to-generation. October 17, 2017.
[2] Heshmat, S. “The scarcity mindset.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201504/the-scarcity-mindset. April 2, 2015.
[3] “World Bank Urges Action to Break the Cycle of Poverty from Generation to Generation.” World Bank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2017/10/17/world-bank-urges-action-to-break-the-cycle-of-poverty-from-generation-to-generation. October 17, 2017.
* Grazio, Wayne S. Flickr. https://flickr.com/photos/fotograzio/30061519867/. May 28, 2015.