The relationship between perceptions of the causes of poverty and household characteristics
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As pioneered by Feagin (1972), the literature on the theories of poverty focuses on individualistic, structural and fatalistic causes of poverty. The individualistic perception blames individuals themselves for their poverty situation. In contrast, the structural perception of poverty blames society for poverty, while the fatalistic perception views poverty as merely bad luck. Even although various people have different perceptions of the causes of poverty, these views typically fall into one of these three categories. People tend to ascribe to these perceptions mostly because of their ontological and cosmological views of life, which are influenced by household characteristics. The purpose of this study was to investigate the household characteristics that determine perceptions of household heads with regard to the causes of poverty. Indexes on individualistic, structural and fatalistic perceptions were calculated for each household and used as dependent variables in an Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression model. The study found that a household head's years of schooling, grant recipients and food insecurity were strong predictors of the structural perception while as regards the individualistic perception, the study reported a positive strong relationship with the age of the head of a household, the number of years of schooling received by the head of the household whereas there was a negative significant relationship with food insecure households, and also with female heads of household. Fatalistic perceptions were strongly predicted by food insecurity, grant recipients and years of schooling of the head of household. The implications of the results are that policy makers need to first understand the perceptions of the poor before coming up with mitigating programmes as the perceptions might influence the effectiveness of the interventions.