Poor households display different levels of poverty; this is the result of different levels of income but is also sometimes brought about by other factors, such as: the psychological state of the persons concerned, the quality of their family relationships, their general situation as regards relationships and social life, the rules governing access to social measures and social support, and whether or not they can turn to associations for help. It is not possible to place a financial value on all of these factors but they have a considerable impact on the way in which poverty starts and develops. The term "severe poverty" has been introduced to describe the situation of individuals and families who have reached the verge of marginalization or have already crossed the dividing line. All victims of marginalization run the risk of sinking into social exclusion, sooner or later, if appropriate measures are not taken as soon as possible to ease their plight.
One out of every four people on the Earth lives in absolute poverty, surviving on less than US$1 a day. This is a condition of life so characterized by malnutrition, illiteracy, disease, squalid surroundings, high infant mortality, and low life expectancy as to be below any definition of human dignity. According to data from the World Bank and the United Nations, roughly 1.3 billion people live in a state of absolute poverty with nearly 25 million being added to their numbers each year.