pauperism

(Latin: pauper, poor)

Frequently denotes an extreme degree of poverty among a large group of persons, or in its widest signification, it denotes the state of a person who is more or less habitually without the material means of living a normal human life and, in consequence, is dependent over any considerable period for his sustenance, either in whole or in: part, upon someone other than his natural supporter. In a legal and technical sense it signifies the condition of a destitute person who receives, or at least is entitled to receive, charitable aid or support from public sources, be it within or outside of almshouses. With a growing number of sociologists the word has come to mean a degraded state of voluntary dependency and social parasitism. Like poverty, pauperism implies a more or less prolonged condition. Unlike poverty, it connotes, as a. rule, the receipt of charitable assistance. Paupers are, generally speaking, poor people who have so utterly failed in their struggle to support themselves that they are compelled to rely upon the bounty of others. Poverty is much more extensive in meaning than is pauperism. While a pauper may be spoken of as living in poverty, there are large numbers living in poverty who are not paupers.

New Catholic Dictionary

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