Marginal level of family income

Visualization of narrower problems
Limited family income
Insufficient personal income
Low income potential
Minimal excess income
Denial of right to just income
Increasing low-income population
Low general income
Family money priorities
Precarious basis for family economics
The rise in cost of municipal services in some communities means that, despite high taxes, local funds are insufficient to cover basics. People on fixed income in these communities fear rising taxes and inflation and find themselves unable to pay for essentials like home repairs. Their houses fall into disrepair, and they themselves sink into a hidden subsistence lifestyle of marginal diet, restricted cashflow, and increasing dependency.

Although many rural families are moving towards a standard of living in which more than their simplest needs are provided for, the basis for such a development is precarious. Average family income is barely adequate for survival: garden produce is limited to what the family can use; the jobs which support most families are seasonal; since work depends heavily on fish, agriculture, hunting or trapping, income is neither steady nor predictable; if a resident leaves the community looking for work, there is no interim income for his family until his first pay cheque arrives; in comparison with nearby towns, local prices are high and goods are limited; general health is seriously hampered by the fact that families cannot afford medical or ambulance expenses; most families cannot afford telephones. The constant struggle to sustain the family is reflected in immediate purchasing and spending patterns. Short-term cash purchasing is virtually the only mode of procurement. Consumer spending is sporadic and bills tend to be paid late. Until the economic basis for the family is placed on a more solid footing, there will be little energy or income available for common development efforts.

As inflation grows in Russia it was reported that millions of Russian families would not be able to survive without two incomes. In 1992, women's earnings account for 40% of family incomes, while every fifth Russian woman is the family's only breadwinner.
1. Without massive income improvement it is increasingly difficult for village people to avoid falling victim to subsistence-style living. Any disaster, such as drought, totally disrupts the delicate balance of marginal subsistence and consumes essential capital resources.

2. We are filled with an overwhelming sadness when We contemplate the sorry spectacle of millions of workers in many lands and entire continents condemned through the inadequacy of their wages to live with their families in utterly sub-human conditions. This is probably due to the fact that the process of industrialization in these countries is only in its initial stages, or is still not sufficiently developed. Nevertheless, in some of these lands the enormous wealth, the unbridled luxury, of the privileged few stands in violent, offensive contrast to the utter poverty of the vast majority. In some parts of the world men are being subjected to in human privations so that the output of the national economy can be increased at a rate of acceleration beyond what would be possible if regard were had to social justice and equity. And in other countries a notable percentage of income is absorbed in building up an ill-conceived national prestige, and vast sums are spent on armaments. In economically developed countries, relatively unimportant services, and services of doubtful value, frequently carry a disproportionately high rate of remuneration, while the diligent and profitable work of whole classes of honest, hard-working men gets scant reward. Their rate of pay is quite inadequate to meet the basic needs of life. It in no way corresponds to the contribution they make to the good of the community, to the profits of the company for which they work, and to the general national economy (Papal Encyclical, 15 May 1961).

(D) Detailed problems