100 Quotes About Poverty That Are Still Relevant

When we hear the word “poverty”, our minds conjure up the images of half-naked, malnourished, and thin children huddled inside a thatched hut. Poverty is the state of deprivation, of a general scarcity and dearth of a certain amount of material possessions or money. With millions of people in the world—especially in the developing countries of Asia and Africa—living below the poverty line, poverty is indeed a major world issue. In fact, even the most developed countries of the world like the United States struggle with poverty related issues.

World poverty is one of the biggest issues facing the governments of different countries today. Poverty, according to the great Nelson Mandela is a man-made evil that can be removed only by the actions of human beings. But poverty is not just about the lack of material possessions; it is multifaceted and includes economic, social, and political elements. Poverty may be defined as either absolute or relative. As Mother Teresa so succinctly put it, loneliness and the feeling unwanted is also a terrible poverty.

Read through this collection of poverty quotes to understand what poverty really means and examine the facets of this multi-pronged evil.

You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.

- Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt

What a weary time those years were -- to have the desire and the need to live but not the ability.

- Ham on Rye, Charles Bukowski

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.

- Mahatma Gandhi

There is no Them. There are only facets of Us.

- John Green

We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without.

- Immanuel Kant

When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.

- Dom Helder Camara: Essential Writings, Hélder Câmara

Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.

- Aristotle

If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones.

- The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.

- Mother Teresa

Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.

- Coco Chanel

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

I had noticed that both in the very poor and very rich extremes of society the mad were often allowed to mingle freely.

- Ham on Rye, Charles Bukowski

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.

- Herman Melville

Poverty is the worst form of violence.

- Mahatma Gandhi

There is always more misery among the lower classes than there is humanity in the higher.

- Les Misérables, Victor Hugo

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.

- Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin

An empty stomach is not a good political adviser.

- Albert Einstein

Hungry for love, He looks at you. Thirsty for kindness, He begs of you. Naked for loyalty, He hopes in you. Homeless for shelter in your heart, He asks of you. Will you be that one to Him?

- In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Mother Teresa

Every life deserves a certain amount of dignity, no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it.

- All Over But the Shoutin', Rick Bragg

It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living.

- Confessions, Jean-Jacques Rousseau

A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things.

- Herman Melville

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.

- Mother Teresa

Our hearts of stone become hearts of flesh when we learn where the outcast weeps.

- Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging, Brennan Manning

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.

- Without Feathers, Woody Allen

History is written by the rich, and so the poor get blamed for everything.

- Jeffrey D. Sachs

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.

- Plutarch

The real opposition is that between the ego-bound man, whose existence is structured by the principle of having, and the free man, who has overcome his egocentricity.

- Erich Fromm

You're broke, eh?" I been shaking two nickels together for a month, trying to get them to mate.

- The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler

The wealth of a soul is measured by how much it can feel... its poverty by how little.

- Invincible, Sherrilyn Kenyon

It is very expensive to give bad medical care to poor people in a rich country.

- Paul Farmer

The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.

- Dorothy Day

The tragedy of the poor is that they can afford nothing but self denial.

- Oscar Wilde

You can't eat straight A's.

- The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston

Last time I talked to her she didn't sound like herself. She's depressed. It's awful what happens when people run out of money. They start thinking they're no good.

- Pigs in Heaven, Barbara Kingsolver

The surest way to remain poor is to be honest.

- Napoléon Bonaparte

Let my body dwell in poverty, and my hands be as the hands of the toiler; but let my soul be as a temple of remembrance where the treasures of knowledge enter and the inner sanctuary is hope.

- Daniel Deronda, George Eliot

Childhood, after all, is the first precious coin that poverty steals from a child.

- The House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz

To seek "causes" of poverty in this way is to enter an intellectual dead end because poverty has no causes. Only prosperity has causes.

- Jane Jacobs

Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.

- Muhammad Ali

We're not stupid! We're just poor! And we have a right to insist on this distinction

- Snow, Orhan Pamuk

People in third world countries aren't living in poverty, they're living pretty much as nature intended us to live it and putting us all to shame

- The Occasional Swearing Of Politician Perrin, James Perrin

Society was cut in two: those who had nothing united in common envy; those who had anything united in common terror.

- Recollections on the French Revolution, Alexis de Tocqueville

Within certain limits, it is actually true that the less money you have, the less you worry.

- Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell

Anywhere you have extreme poverty and no national health insurance, no promise of health care regardless of social standing, that's where you see the sharp limitations of market-based health care.

- Paul Farmer

Where people are really attached, poverty itself is wealth.

- Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

It is a good thing to know what it is to be poor, and a better thing if you can do it in company.

- Gilead, Marilynne Robinson

We must powder our wigs; that is why so many poor people have no bread.

- Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The fact that the poor are alive is clear proof of their ability.

- Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty, Muhammad Yunus

Going to trial with a lawyer who considers your whole life-style a Crime in Progress is not a happy prospect.

- Hunter S. Thompson

It is fatal to look hungry. It makes people want to kick you.

- Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell

As usual, in every scheme that worsens the position of the poor, it is the poor who are invoked as beneficiaries.

- Vandana Shiva

Some of the best people that ever lived have been as destitute as I am; and if you are a Christian, you ought not to consider poverty a crime.

- Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

Extreme poverty is not only a condition of unsatisfied material needs. It is often accompanied by a degrading state of powerlessness.

- The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty, Peter Singer

Where you live should not determine whether you live, or whether you die.

- Bono

Poverty frees them from ordinary standards of behaviour, just as money frees people from work.

- Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell

People who don't have much get ugly about giving up the little they have left.

- Andrew Vachss

I only seem negative to the fortunate. That's because I show the less fortunate that they aren't less fortunate after all.

- Killosophy, Criss Jami

I spend half my time comforting the afflicated, and the other half afflicting the comfortable.

- Wess Stafford

The man with toothache thinks everyone happy whose teeth are sound. The poverty stricken man makes the same mistake about the rich man.

- George Bernard Shaw

They [Harvard academia] liked the poor, but didn't like the smell of the poor.

- Chris Hedges

In Paris there are two dens, one for thieves, the other for murderers. The den of thieves is the Stock Exchange; the den of murderers is the Courthouse.

- Champavert, Petrus Borel

We are not concerned with the very poor. They are unthinkable, and only to be approached by the statistician or the poet.

- E.M. Forster

.. becoming attached to a country involves pressing, uncomfortable questions about justice and opportunity for its least powerful citizens.

- Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Katherine Boo

Poverty does not belong in civilized human society. Its proper place is in a museum. That's where it will be.

- Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty, Muhammad Yunus

From recovery to rags and rags to recovery symbolizes art - a perfect compilation of human imperfections.

- Salomé: In Every Inch In Every Mile, Criss Jami

Hunger has always been more or less at my elbow when I played, but now I began to wake up at night to find hunger standing at my bedside, staring at my gauntly.

- Black Boy, Richard Wright

When I get down to my last dime I'll just walk over to skid row." "There are some real weirdos down there." "They're everywhere.

- Ham on Rye, Charles Bukowski

While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

- Eugene V. Debs

The poor themselves can create a poverty-free world. All we have to do is to free them from the chains that we have put around them!

- Muhammad Yunus

Poverty made a sound like a wet cough in the shadows of the room.

- The Golden Apples of the Sun, Ray Bradbury

That is one of the bitter curses of poverty; it leaves no right to be generous.

- George Gissing

The real cause of hunger is the powerlessness of the poor to gain access to the resources they need to feed themselves.

- Frances Moore Lappé

At the heart of the celebration, there are the poor. If [they] are excluded, it is not longer a celebration. [...] A celebration must always be a festival of the poor.

- Community And Growth, Jean Vanier

Look at your own poverty welcome it cherish it don't be afraid share your death because thus you will share your love and your life

- Community And Growth, Jean Vanier

Because to the poor, books are not diversions. Book are siege weapons.

- One for the Books, Joe Queenan

They can do without architecture who have no olives nor wines in the cellar

- Walden and Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau

Without an informed electorate, politicians will continue to use the bottom billion merely for photo opportunities, rather than promoting real transformation.

- The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, Paul Collier

Poverty is a result of poor choices not of poor luck

- Secrets of Jewish Wealth Revealed!, Celso Cukierkorn

Rebels usually have something to complain about, and if they don't they make it up. All too often the really disadvantaged are in no position to rebel; they just suffer quietly.

- The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, Paul Collier

Poor is the man whom is not content with what he has.

- Rita Gonzalez

Poverty is not a circumstance, it's an attitude.

- Rita Gonzalez

The poor love life as passionately as the rich do. Perhaps more, for the effort it takes to cling to it.

- Curiosity, Joan Thomas

There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge. Both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought.

- Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill

When giving money to the amputated, you must put it directly into their pockets.

- Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World's Most Precious Stones, Greg Campbell

The vast majority of Americans, at all coordinates of the economic spectrum, consider themselves middle class; this is a deeply ingrained, distinctly American cognitive dissonance.

- Ellen Cushing

La verdadera pobreza no es la falta de pan, ni de techo, la verdadera pobreza viene de la sensacin de no ser nadie.

- María Teresa de Calcuta

Poverty is a great cutter-off and riches a great shutter-off.

- Justine, Lawrence Durrell

I believe that the emphasis on curbing population growth diverts attention from the more vital issue of pursuing policies that allow the population to take care of itself.

- Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty, Muhammad Yunus

People in that crowd want to make poverty history, but NOT if they have to pay for it themselves

- Meltdown, Ben Elton

Light's all very well, brothers, but it's not easy to live with.

- Mikhail Zoshchenko

She missed -- without knowing what she missed-- paints and crayons

- The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison

Poverty is not a disgrace, but it's terribly inconvenient

- Milton Berle

A Man's management of his own purse speaks volumes about character

- Thomas Jefferson

Poverty is spiritualhalitosis.

- Keep the Aspidistra Flying, George Orwell

I've always felt that your belongings have never been on a level with you.

- Middlemarch, George Eliot

Like navigation markings in unknown waters, definitions of poverty need to be distinctive and unambiguous. A definition that is not precise is as bad as no definition at all.

- Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty, Muhammad Yunus

I decided I would go with them, but it would be at my father's house that I would eat. I would share his food, and his poverty.

- The Bandit Queen of India: An Indian Woman's Amazing Journey from Peasant to International Legend, Phoolan Devi

Un miros de sărac, un miros de violență, de necesitatea de a parveni.

- Ritornela foamei, Jean-Marie G. Le Clézio

Let these men sing out their songs, they've been walking all day long, all their fortune's spent and gone... silver dollar in the subway station; quarters for the papers for the jobs.

- Roman Payne

Take a rain check on poverty with Cosmic Ordering.

- The Cosmic Ordering Service, Stephen Richards

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