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In the last 10 years in particular, falling commodity prices, poor returns on investment the debt crisis, and structural adjustment programs, have reduced the real income of approximately 800 million people in some 40 developing countries. In Latin America, the fall in incomes has been as much as twenty percent. In sub- Saharan Africa, it has often been much more. At the same time, cuts in essential social services have meant health centers without drugs and doctors, schools without books and teachers, family planning clinics without staff and supplies.
For many million families in the poorest villages and urban ghettos of the developing world, the daily consequences of these negative economic forces are that people are unable to maintain a home fit to live in, to place enough food on the table, to dress conveniently and live decently, unable to keep their children at school, etc. Consequently, millions of children in the world have failed to find any work; they have become economically unproductive and socially irresponsible adults, thus creating an underclass of unskilled and undereducated individuals.

Through such processes, millions of people are driven into misery and despair. And when the desperate and the destitute are increasingly young, uprooted, urbanized people, who know far more about the world than their parents and expect far more from it, the almost inevitable result is increased social disintegration, ethnic tensions and political turbulence. Inevitable, also, is the rise of crime, violence, alcoholism, and drug addiction, in which most of the aggrieved and the discarded have most often sought refuge.

Adapted from UNICEF's "The State of the World's Children, 1995"

A. Guided Commentary

  1. Basing on the text, say what economic marginalization means. (3 points)
  2. Give three causes of economic marginalization from the text. (3 points)
  3. Basing on the text, state in your own words four social consequences of economic marginalization. (4 points)
  4. How do poor people suffer from economic marginalization, according to the text? (4 points)

B. Essay:

In your opinion, what measures can be taken at different levels of society to improve the situation of marginalized people in your country? (6 points)

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