How Life Insurance Fights the Vicious Cycle of Generational Poverty

Generational Poverty is defined as a family having lived in poverty for at least two generations. The phrase “extreme poverty” is usually associated with generational poverty: poor parents, poor children, and poor grandchildren. Like genetics, poverty seems to be passed down from generation to generation in this situation. As a result, these families tend to be trapped in poverty until an external influence can help them escape poverty.

It is important to understand the difference between Generational Poverty and Situational Poverty. A person/family can experience Situational Poverty when their income and support is decreased due to a specific change in job loss, divorce, death, etc. While there can be a domino effect caused by this one significant change, families experiencing Situational Poverty tend to remain hopeful, knowing that this is a temporary setback. This typically is not so with generational poverty. We at Octans Insurance believe that life insurance can be an invaluable tool to fight this persistent vicious problem. The day you pass away, your next generation will acquire capital they can use to build a better life for themselves. Having that money in their bank accounts can fundamentally change the trajectories of their lives because it will give them time to breathe, slow down, think and figure out what to do to use this money in the most meaningful way so that they don’t fall back into poverty. It gives them hope.

To understand how life insurance can be a lifesaver for the people you leave behind in your death, you need to first understand a few things about generational poverty, here are some key factors it is associated with:


Most people think of poverty as lacking financial resources to meet basic living requirements. Families dealing with Generational Poverty are also challenged with three other forms of poverty:

  • Educational Poverty
  • Parental Poverty
  • Spiritual Poverty

The cumulative effect of these different forms of poverty sometimes creates the most damaging outcome of Generational Poverty—the constant presence of Hopelessness.

Hopelessness is the key factor in creating the cycle—one generation to the next. Without hope and the belief that life can be better, the motivation and energy needed to break the cycle are very low.

Surviving vs Planning

People caught in the cycle of Generational Poverty are focused on surviving. They are focused on the issue/challenge facing them today. It may be money for food, finding a place to live, dealing with family member’s issues, unresolved health issues, etc. This is a daily experience—each day presenting itself with another issue, another challenge. All of this is done under the cloak of urgency. The concept of planning typically doesn’t exist, due in part because planning is tied to the belief that the individual has sufficient control of their life.

Values and Patterns

The values of those caught in the Generational Poverty cycle are very different from those who have grown up middle class. Generational Poverty values will center more on survival and short-term outcomes. As a result, they are more likely to get into criminal activities that let them acquire quick money. But it also means now they are more likely to get incarcerated and will be stuck in the permanently vicious cycle.

In comparison, generally, middle class values encompass education, work and being perceived as productive members of society. In Generational Poverty, it is also possible that counterproductive traditions are passed down such as low emphasis on education.

Now how is life insurance the solution to this problem? First- it is most definitely not! Intergenerational poverty is a complex issue, it is a cultural mindset compounded by systemic barriers and inefficient delivery systems.  Like most systemic issues, this will require a vast amount of coordination from every corner of society. Life insurance is simply one of such foundational blocks that people can have to avoid passing poverty down to their next generations. How?

Firstly, it is important to cultivate a mindset where you are looking towards the future and not only surviving in the moment, despite struggling to make ends meet. You don’t need money to have big dreams and hope for your children. Once you have made up your mind to provide a better future for your children, it will become easier to spend 20 dollars a month on life insurance instead of junk food, cigarettes and alcohol or some other impulse. For a mere $20, you can ensure your children go to college in the future if you are to suddenly pass away. You can work to death and save; however, it won’t help to pay for college or buy a house if they save twenty dollars every week.     

What causes intergenerational poverty?

It is often assumed that poor people are responsible for their own circumstances. Maybe they just need to work harder and save.

Well, that’s an easier way to think about it since it is more difficult to accept reality, however, because it involves acknowledging the systemic policies that perpetuate generational poverty. It’s true that some of those systems have given some of us an edge, but they’ve also limited some options for others.

Intergenerational poverty is caused by a myriad of factors, here are a few to start with-

Inadequate education

Education determines a household’s wealth and well-being. Therefore, a lack of appropriate knowledge and skills is the primary reason why so many families cannot escape poverty. Intergenerational poverty can generate chronic absenteeism in school, and it is not necessarily because they are kids playing hooky or are uninterested. As a child falls behind in school, they have a greater likelihood of dropping out of school, being incarcerated, earning less in the future, or living in poverty later in life.

Low availability of resources

There is a ‘scarcity’ mindset in these families which is a mental shift due to the perception of scarce resources, which traps people in a cycle of insecure thinking and struggle to obtain short-term goals. A mindset like this doesn’t allow adults or kids to think about college, careers, or higher achievements. Whatever dreams they do have, they often feel unreachable, and their lot in life is just to survive.

Additionally, this mindset and environment lead to a shortage of resources. Those who live in underserved areas may encounter difficulties when it comes to generating income. Moreover, living in constant worry about money can cause toxic stress, which can affect learning, behavior, and overall health.

Lack of determination

People who live through intergenerational poverty are less confident in their ability to succeed, leading to decreased professional and educational attainment, depression, and anxiety. This is also related to ‘negative stereotyping’- whereby people living in poverty absorb media stereotypes of those on benefits or unemployed as lacking warmth and competence. “Believing themselves to be fundamentally flawed, any achievement is tempered by a lack of confidence and subconscious self-loathing.

A child raised in such an environment is at risk of developing a condition in which children feel as if they have no power to change or control their circumstances. Children growing up in poverty find themselves in surroundings characterized by chaos, an absence of structure, and a perceived lack of control. Helplessness is then conditioned by continued exposure to uncontrollable, unpredictable stimuli.

In addition, Intergenerational poverty has profound effects on children that they carry into adulthood.

Children growing up in low-income families face many challenges that children from more advantaged families do not. These children are more likely to experience multiple family transitions, move frequently, and change schools. The schools they attend are less well funded, and the neighborhoods they live in are more disadvantaged. The parents of these children have fewer resources to invest in them and, consequently, their homes have fewer cognitively stimulating materials, and their parents invest less in their education. The stress of living in poverty and struggling to meet daily needs can also impair parenting.

Social and economic deprivation during childhood and adolescence can have a lasting effect on individuals, making it difficult for children who grow up in low-income families to escape poverty when they become adults. Because the negative effects of deprivation on human development tend to cumulate, individuals with greater exposure to poverty during childhood are likely to have more difficulty escaping poverty as adults. Researchers have examined patterns of exposure to poverty during childhood and found the association between these patterns and poverty in early and middle adulthood.

This way, the life in poverty is carried forward by these individuals who come from a family with a long history of being impoverished, the burden is then moved to their children and so it goes on for generations. But life insurance can help break this vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty. It should be evident at this point, that education creates opportunities, and we cannot overstate the need for a college degree in order to stop living a life with minimum wages. Through life insurance, you can ensure if you were to pass away, your children still have the funds to pursue education. If you don’t pass away, life insurance can still be useful as you can get your money back in specific types of policies. That way, you can be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. Get a free quote today and our agents can explain more to help you understand it better.

Information source:

Your Eligibility is Guaranteed! Check To See How Much Coverage You Can Afford

Get Quote