Why Poverty Persists

Why Poverty Persists

Poverty Dynamics in Asia and Africa

Edited by Bob Baulch

This edited book analyses what traps people in chronic poverty, and what allows them to escape from it, using long-term panel surveys from six Asian and African countries. The distinguishing feature of these studies, which were commissioned by the Chronic Poverty Research Centre, is they span longer periods or have more survey waves than most developing country panels. This allows a detailed account of the maintainers of chronic poverty and drivers of poverty dynamics. Many of the studies (from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa and Vietnam) are written by leading development economists, and all pay careful attention to the difficult issues of attrition, measurement error and tracking. The book’s comparative perspective highlights the common factors which cause people to fall into chronic poverty and allow them to break-free from it. A number of promising policies and interventions for reducing chronic poverty are identified.

Chapter 3: A Poor Life? Chronic Poverty and Downward Mobility in Rural Ethiopia, 1994 to 2004

Stefan Dercon and Catherine Porter

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics


Stefan Dercon and Catherine Porter INTRODUCTION Ethiopia holds a mixed record of success over 20 years in terms of economic growth, poverty reduction and graduation from dependence on food aid. Known internationally for frequent famines and food insecurity, low levels of urbanisation and poor scoring on human development indicators, Ethiopia has however experienced some periods of high national economic growth (over 10 per cent in the past three years),1 doubled the number of people with access to drinking water (albeit to a low 52 per cent) and doubled the gross primary school enrolment rate. Since 1991, and especially in the late 1990’s after the war with Eritrea ended, Ethiopia gained increased donor support and external assistance, spurred by the 1991 change in regime, and in recognition of prior underfunding for political reasons.2 Despite these improvements, the distribution of economic growth has not been equal, with growth in many cash crop producing areas as well as areas well-connected to roads, but with other areas of stagnation and pockets of destitution. The majority of the population live in rural areas, rural population growth is high, and rural–urban migration is relatively low. There is a high degree of pressure on land resources, and problems of soil degradation and climate variability (especially low and erratic rainfall). Land rights reform is still a pressing issue as well as access to fertilizer and seeds. A large proportion of the population is dependent on food aid, though a more comprehensive and predictable form of assistance,...

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