Families may be poor for a large variety of reasons, ranging from a lack of education on the part of the breadwinner and handicaps of various kinds (physical or mental), to discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, colour, sex, age, political ideology, or language. A low family living standard may be inadequately compensated by national social security benefits, or the structure of these benefits may be such that it creates a disincentive to work, therefore bringing recriminations on the family and particularly the breadwinner, from better-off sections of society which contribute higher taxes.
Since methods of social security and assistance to underprivileged families, where they exist, are rarely fully adequate and are usually fraught with bureaucratic stipulations, it is difficult to eradicate family poverty. Family poverty is especially likely to occur among minority groups which are shunned or discriminated against by the community at large.
In most industrialized countries the poorest fifth of the population still receives less than 7% of the national income. And the distribution has become more unequal over time, not less.
A study in the USA indicated that, of 1,000 children born into the poorest tenth of society only 4 will eventually end up in the richest tenth.
Family poverty results in high rates of population growth. Poor families, whether in terms of income, employment or social security benefits, need children, initially to work and later to sustain the elderly parents.