Lesson 3: Poverty: a Historical Context

Lesson 3: Poverty: a Historical Context

During prehistoric times, at the start of human history, everyone was more or less equal; that is to say, hungry. The hunter-gatherer lifestyle had a few advantages, it took relatively little labor to gather enough food, enough calories to live, and thus you had a lot of free time to do what you pleased, but it was not a lifestyle that was secure. The threat of death was imminent; you could die if there was a sudden change in climate, or if there was an animal flue that kills off your livestock. The ability to plan for and build in a response to those kinds of changes in prehistoric times was impossible.
In the period of the early civilizations, everything is poor except for the one or two palaces the kings or chiefs lived. Virtually everybody in the world was poor, if you define poverty as meaning the lack of reliable access to basic needs, whether its food or water or health technology. These things eluded 90% of the world’s population, and the average life expectancy 35 years. Virtually every community, even the most advanced, were subject to repeated famine.

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