Poverty and Wealth: Two Sides of the Same Coin"Rich man, poor man, faced each other in a van. Said the poor man with a twitch: Were I not poor, you wouldn’t be rich. “Alfabet“ by Bertolt Brecht (1934)"
Poverty cannot be understood as a phenomenon in its own right but only in context with its counterpart, wealth. If no differentials in income and assets existed, neither term would have any meaning at all. Poverty and wealth are two sides of the same coin: without wealth, there can be no poverty, and without poverty, there is no wealth. Poverty and wealth depend on each other, not least in the capitalist economy: the maximization of profits and the pauperization of one section of the population are going hand in hand. History has shown that increasing wealth does not eradicate poverty.
Poverty, material need and hardship may be as old as mankind, but their persistence in the face of rising overall levels of wealth still demands an explanation in our era of globalization and neoliberal modernization. Explanations are also needed to help us understand why families, children and young people appear to be the most affected groups in today’s society. There is no single, generally accepted definition of poverty. Ideas of what constitutes “income poverty” vary from country to country and from region to region. This is why the countries of the EU have agreed a common concept of relative poverty which sets the poverty threshold at 60 % of each country’s mean income.