Needs, wants, market demand and poverty are all linked together.
Needs. Human beings in rich countries have little appreciation of the difference between basic needs and the many “wants” of a rich society.
Those that live at the $1 a day level know how important it is to have water to drink, some food to eat, some clothes to keep warm and some shelter from the elements. This population knows something about family and children secure the future.
Somehow, this population understands the importance of education and the need for healthcare. Above all this population is incredibly entrepreneurial and are survivors against all odds.
The definition of basic needs changes as the wealth of the society increases ... but it is worth remembering that there are many layers of need. Below the lowest of the basic needs ... the outcome is death.
What people want! Human beings are conditioned to want things that are essential to survival ... it is part of the human biology. But beyond the basics for survival wants take on a very different set of characteristics.
Poverty. It is confusing to hear the one liner that “people living under $1 a day” are the ultra poor, and ordinary poverty is merely “living with under $2 a day of income”.
But worse, the very idea that so much of the world's population, maybe 2 billion people or about one third of the world's population, live at this level of poverty is disgusting. Until these levels of poverty are eliminated, the world should consider the national and international processes of governance and relief and development an abject failure.
Poverty is not caused by the laziness of poor people as much as it is caused by a systemic failure of the economic apparatus. People work hard ... but they get little reward, and there is little progress.
A paradigm shift is needed that allows a productive economic system to work and makes it possible for poor people to be included.