Klienenberg’s description of the Chicago heat wave of 1995 as “a structurally determined catastrophe” is an important one because it offers a deeper explanation of the correlation between inequality and poverty as well as the “institutional and social mechanisms” that contribute to suffering. Much like other natural disasters and epidemics, the heat wave did not affect all people equally. Some were more susceptible to death not simply because of demographic factors such as age (although those did contribute), but also because their social position led to a lack of access to adequate care.
A similar correlation between poverty and violence exists and has been demonstrated in various studies across a variety of situations. This article from The Economist is an enlightening look at the relationship between conflict and poverty and how these forces contribute to the cyclical nature of this association. Not only is poverty itself a form of violence, but violence is exacerbated by the circumstances of poverty. This relationship has been demonstrated in many environments across different nations, and it has been recently been brought to the spotlight regarding Nigeria. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said that the income gap and overwhelming poverty of the country has contributed to the violence and despair. Poverty is the fuel to the fire that creates a breeding ground for violence.