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  • A state of destitution in which individuals cannot conveniently afford the basic necessities of life— food, clothing, and shelter. As a standardized method of measuring poverty across the globe, the World Bank introduced the $1 and $2 per day thresholds in the 1980s to distinguish extreme from severe poverty in absolute terms. Those living on less than $1 per day are classified as living in extreme poverty. Some critics of this absolute measure contend that the benchmarks are exceedingly low.

    In the United States, the poverty threshold is relative. As of 2009, an individual with an annual income of $10,830 does not have enough to cover basic needs, and a family of three with an annual income of $18,310 is considered poor.

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