The theory of "cycle of poverty"Why does the socioeconomic status of one's parents almost always guarantee a child's future in society?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Post #7 makes an excellent point--the choices of parents influence the choices of their children.  In my state, we had a 50% high school drop out rate.  While the rate has decreased somewhat, it is still difficult to fathom how it can be so high in 21st century America.  What I've noticed is that I still have students who come from parents who do not have high school diplomas or from homes where parents still do not consider college or tech school necessary.  Obviously, these students do not come from wealthy homes because their parents have either been satisfied with the status quo (reliance on government assistance) or feel trapped in their situation even when they have a desire to get out.  I've witnessed such parents teaching their children how to "work the system" so that school/education is no longer about learning as much as possible or preparing for post-secondary education and a career; instead, it is about developing ways to take advantage of social programs such as free and reduced lunch even when it might be unnecessary or intentionally testing into special education programs so that students will not be held to standards that are appropriate for them.

Sadly, parents who are content with lower socioeconomic levels teach their children how to "settle" or discourage them from achieving more than they have themselves.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's for a variety of reasons, all of which have to do with the opportunities the child has.  Let me list some examples:

  • Richer parents are more likely to be educated and have lots of books around.  They're more likely to read things and set that example for their kids.  So their kids learn to read sooner and get a jump on education.
  • Richer parents have more time to get involved in their kids' schooling and more of a feeling that they know what they're doing around education.  They'll be more likely to make sure that their kids are getting what they need from the school.
  • Richer more educated parents can do way more to help their kids with homework and such.

And that's just in the context of early grades of school.  There's also the expectations that richer parents have, the ability to support kids as they move on in life, etc.

There are so many ways that richer parents can help their kids that it's no wonder the status of the parent tends to be passed down to the child.

jcsmith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's been said over and over that a child becomes exactly what he or she sees and lives with. Children often learn by example and according to the environment in which he or she is born into. In this case, if a child is raised in poverty, chances are that this child will remain in poverty because he or she doesn't know any other way of life. It would take an amazing transformation of some sort in this child's life. Perhaps someone at school, a teacher,  inspires this child to reach beyond what he or she knows to attain a better status in life.

If a child has been raised in a different setting, such as a home with educated parents, circumstances will be different. The child will have access to books and other privileges a child in poverty may not have. This child will aspire to keep the kind of life he or she is accustomed to. He or she may even go on to higher levels in life.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a lot reasons for this:

1. Wealth determines some of the most important elements of a child's life generally speaking.

2. Wealth will give the child the best education that money can buy starting at a young age.

3. Wealth will give a child a social network that he or she can draw on for the rest of his or her life. Unfortunately, it is who you know many of the times that enables success.

4. Wealth will also allow a child to travel and broaden his or her mind.

5. Wealth will also allow a child to spend time with family to develop confidence in life.

6. Children of wealthy parents also inherit wealth!

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dr. Ruby Payne has researched this idea extensively. First what you are talking about is generational poverty. This type of poverty has been son ongoing that subconscious rules are perceived by the individuals trapped in this poverty. They don’t choose these rules--they simply evolve. Check out the following link for her very clear and precise explanation of this concept.

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ruby Payne is a fantastic speaker and hearing her last year was extremely educational for me on this topic. I have looked at behaviors in my students' parents in the past and been utterly befuddled. Understanding the cycle of poverty and the culture it breeds helps to cast light on these behaviors.

I'm not excusing the single mother on welfare who has a cell phone and a weekly upkeep on her glittering acrylic nails...but understanding her choices helps to be able to better help her child in school.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Parent's status does not necessarily guarantee their children's. However, you are correct that it often does. Besides the lack of resources and opportunities poor children have, they also lack the skill set that growing up middle class would have given them. Middle class parents teach their children middle class values, such as the importance of school and going to college. They tend to have more stable homes, and even in the case of divorce have more stable relationships.
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Your socioeconomic status often determines where you live.  Where you live determines where you go to school and what you witness day to day.  It determines who you socialize with and the amount of crime in your neighborhood.  All of these things can trap a person in a cycle of poverty.  There is also a tendency for some parents who were raised poor, or who are poorly educated, not to want their children, especially girls, to become more educated than they are.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Socioeconomic status determines how you are raised and also contributes to what privileges you may have. You may, for example, receive a better education if you are in a higher socioeconomic status. This may be due to dues factors such smaller classroom size, etc.