Affluence Essay Writing Ideas

Ah, affluence. It’s an idea that many students think about quite a lot. Whether they’re involved in a passionate debate about global wealth distribution at the student union or sitting next door in the bar wondering if they can afford one more pint of cider, money is rarely far from a student’s thoughts. Then they get assigned an essay on the subject, and their mind goes blank.

If you find yourself in this position, hopefully this short guide will give you a few ideas on what to write about. Affluence is a subject that has kept economists, politicians and philosophers busy pretty much since writing was invented, so there’s no shortage of material.

  • Firstly, define affluence. The primary meaning according to Collins English Dictionary is “an abundant supply of money, goods, or property; wealth.” That’s pretty clear and sets the context nicely; affluence is a situation where money is not in short supply. Although it doesn’t seem like it much of the time that’s the reality for most people in advanced western societies. Yes, even students.
  • How many people are affluent? A lot of this comes down to definitions. To be affluent it’s not enough to be above the official poverty line, which is itself not exactly helpful. In the USA, for example, a person is defined as living in poverty if their annual income is less than about $11,500; in the UK the equivalent figure is over $19,500. On a global level the World Bank’s definition of poverty is $1.25 a day, or $456 a year. Ideas of poverty obviously vary, and so do ideas of affluence. You might start with the average wage and work out how much above that someone has to earn to have no worries about paying for essentials.
  • How is affluence distributed? This offers a lot of potential, both at the global and national level. Look at relative levels of affluence in different countries, for example. Is it fair that almost everyone in western Europe is by any sensible definition affluent, while almost everyone in Africa very obviously isn’t?
  • Is affluence a good thing? Yes, this is a reasonable question. Poverty is obviously a bad thing, but that doesn’t mean that an abundant supply of wealth is a good one. The USA is an affluent society and most of its inhabitants have a good income. On the other hand the USA, with 5% of the world’s population, uses 25% of its energy. The populations of countries like India and China look at American TV and aspire to the same affluence themselves. As these two countries between them add up to a third of the global population, the numbers clearly say they can’t have it unless the USA reduces its energy use greatly.

These are just a few possible issues to explore; a quick read of any good newspaper will quickly add more detail. Affluence offers many possibilities because it covers so many fields of the social sciences, so take the opportunity to write something impressive.