Relative poverty is a sociological term used to describe a state of poverty within an industrialized nation or highly developed area. The main difference between relative poverty and absolute poverty is that people affected by relative poverty are usually not endangered by their lack of resources (at least not in the life and death sense.)

The poor in the United States are a good example of this. While no one would argue that America's poor are well off or overly comfortable, even the rural poor have some emergency access to food, shelter, and more sophisticated social services. Generally (and I mean very generally), populations in relative poverty are not in immediate danger of starving to death, dying of exposure to the elements, etc. This doesn't mean that the poor are always aware of the availability of these resources or that stratification doesn't exist within the offering of the services.

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