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The standard of living is a measurement that takes into account the wealth of a segment of society, as well as that population's access to basic services, amenities, and expendable income. A low standard of living means that segment of the population may not have much wealth or access to basic services and amenities. Factors that can contribute to a low standard of living include lack of adequate industry in a particular area, lack of jobs, insufficient health care services, lack of public transportation, lack of food or water, government oppression, and many more factors.
The life expectancy of a particular segment of society may also contribute to a low standard of living. People who have less access to quality foods and clean homes, cities, and countries generally die earlier than people in more developed areas that offer good food and cleanliness. People in these poorer areas also tend to be less satisfied with their lives, which can contribute to increased morbidity. Crime rates can begin to rise, further exacerbating the low standard of living in an area and potentially leading to an increase in mortality rates. Lack of public services such as police and fire crews can perpetuate the high crime rates as well.
Such poverty and high crime rates can be caused by several factors, including government corruption, lack of funding for basic public services, occurrence of natural disasters such as droughts, floods, and hurricanes, or isolation from other societies. Corrupt governments exist throughout the world, and the general populace of that country can suffer immensely. The distribution of wealth in a country can be skewed so that very few people have the most money, while the majority of people must make ends meet with very little. This can lead to unrest in society, anger toward the government, and upheaval that leads to even more strife in an area.
War is perhaps the biggest contributing factor to a low standard of living. War-torn areas tend to suffer immensely both during and after the war has taken place, and it can take decades for a society to rebuild after battles have taken place. Mortality rates are likely to rise significantly during and after a war, and access to basic services such as health care is likely to be limited for long periods of time. Destruction of buildings, roads, and other properties is likely, and families may be displaced for months or years on end.