Growing Up in Poverty and Its Impact on Education

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 4
Words: 1135
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: Master


It is hard to disagree that in this world, there is a vast number of severe issues and weaknesses that have to be addressed immediately. Unfortunately, although many of them have continuous adverse effects on different groups of society, it is still impossible to successfully address these concerns. One of the eternal problems of humanity is high rates of poverty. Living beneath the poverty line is almost always extremely harmful and unfair. Such people usually cannot afford nutritious food, warm clothes, or paying electricity bills. Across the country, thousands of persons face discrimination based on their income level. Those who want to improve their economic situation by finding a job face hostility or humiliation from employers. Unfortunately, while it is challenging for adults to live in poverty, it is an even more traumatic experience for children. Growing in poverty can have many negative effects on kids and teenagers, both short-term and long-term. While some people consider education the key to poverty reduction, children actually face barriers when studying, including worse study conditions, peer pressure, low academic performance, and inability to get to an educational institution.

Numerous Effects of Poverty on Children

The main purpose of this paper is to talk about how growing up in low-income households affects kids’ education. However, it is also essential to mention that there are many other equally important aspects of life that can change depending on poverty. For example, it is proved that living below the poverty line increases the rate of mental and physical conditions and illnesses among children and teenagers (Madrick 11). Other effects of poverty include emotional and behavioral problems, the development of addictions, and unemployment.

Background Information and Statistics

To understand the seriousness of the situation, one can look at the official statistics. For instance, according to Madrick, “more than one out of every six American children live beneath the poverty line” (5). Further, “researchers of an April 2020 survey found that 35% of households with children <18 years old are now food insecure, a twofold increase compared with 2018” (Masonbrink and Hurley 3). Those teenagers who manage to go to school or college are about six times more likely to drop out without receiving proper higher education. There are many factors associated with poverty that cause children and adolescents to abandon the idea of graduating.

The Influence of Poverty on Children’s Education

Lower Chances of Going to a School or College

First of all, it is necessary to note that not all children from low-income households receive a chance to get an education. One reason is that there are too many kids entitled to free educational programs, which means that some of them cannot finally get one. What is more, in many poor families, there are several children, and as soon as they can get any job, their parents decide to send them to work instead of school.

Worse Study Conditions

Further, even when a child starts attending school, he or she may face additional problems. For example, according to Hillman and Jenkner, kids and teenagers from low-income families usually receive inadequate education (7). First, the level of training of educators may be dissatisfying, and they can be unaware of the best teaching practices or decide not to pay specific attention to the lessons. Thus, such studies are not rather useful or valuable for students. Additionally, in special schools for poor children, there may be overcrowded classrooms and a lack of educators and basic tools involving paper, blackboards, and textbooks.

Lower Chances of Successful Graduation

Further, as mentioned above, in some cases, it is unlikely that kids from poor families graduate. As noted by Lindsey, hard work and education were once sustainable paths to economic success, but in modern world they no longer lead that far (35). Those children and teenagers who live below the poverty line and get to school or college usually feel overwhelmed, stressed, and unwelcomed. They know that their higher education and degree are probably the only chance for their families to increase their level of life. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to deal with such pressure and turn it into motivation and inspiration for better studies.

Therefore, many poor students fail to graduate from their educational institutions. In addition to the reason mentioned above, their decision may also result from peer pressure and severe segregation by income existing in colleges (Jensen 27). What is more, such students may have serious problems with academic achievements and lose motivation for further studies (Lacour and Tissington 522). Overall, it is possible to say that situation at schools and colleges have to be addressed so that children from low-income families feel more welcomed and decide to finish their studies.

Discrimination and Peer Pressure

People may be extremely rude when communicating with someone with lower social status. Many children from low-income families face discrimination and get humiliated by their classmates because of the way they look or the absence of their school lunch. When a child or teenager feels unwelcomed, it is general for them to isolate themselves, which, in turn, prevents them from focusing in the classroom and being successful with school assignments. Moreover, bullying is one of the reasons why students from low-income families decide to drop out of their educational institutions.

Problems with Academic Achievement

Finally, it is essential to notice that it is not easy for children from low-income households to be successful with their studies, and laziness is not the primary reason, as one may think. According to Tran et al., their research showed that “family poverty was associated with lower child development scores in all countries” (415). Growing up in poverty affects and slows kids’ developmental process, and it is much more difficult for them to concentrate, find creative solutions and answers, and be successful in class.


To draw a conclusion, one may say that the problem of high poverty rates has to be effectively addressed in the nearest future. As stated above, higher education is not a proper and working solution anymore. Children face numerous barriers on their path to getting a degree, and many of them fail due to various unpleasant circumstances. Therefore, nowadays, growing up in poverty is not associated with getting a good education and receiving a chance for a better life. Peer pressure, lack of motivation or basic tools, poor academic performance, and uncertainty of the future may severely influence children from low-income families and reduce their belief in the possibilities provided by higher education. That is why the effects mentioned in the paper have to be addressed, and it is vital to make sure that students from poor households are convinced of the need to graduate from school or college. If the education they receive is quality, it is possible to expect the reduction of poverty in the following decades.

Works Cited

Hillman, Arye L., and Eva Jenkner. “Educating Children in Poor Countries.” Economic Issues, no. 33, 2004.

Jensen, Eric. “How Poverty Affects Classroom Engagement.” Educational Leadership, vol. 70, no. 8, 2013, pp. 24-30.

Lacour, Misty, and Laura D. Tissington. “The Effects of Poverty on Academic Achievement.” Educational Research and Reviews, vol. 6, no. 7, 2011, pp. 522-527.

Lindsey, Duncan. Child Poverty and Inequality: Securing a Better Future for America’s Children. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Madrick, Jeff. Invisible Americans: The Tragic Cost of Child Poverty. Alfred A. Knopf, 2020.

Masonbrink, Abbey R., and Emily Hurley. “Advocating for Children During the COVID-19 School Closures.” Pediatrics, vol. 146, no. 3, pp. 1-4, 2020.

Tran, Trac. D., et al. “Early Childhood Development: Impact of National Human Development, Family Poverty, Parenting Practices and Access to Early Childhood Education.” Child: Care, Health & Development, vol. 43, no. 3, 2017, pp. 415–26.