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 8: Chronic Poverty: What is to be Done?

Bob Baulch

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


Bob Baulch The six country studies from Africa and Asia presented in this book have explored different aspects of poverty dynamics and persistence, together with the factors which trap households and individuals in chronic poverty. This concluding chapter asks the classic policy question of ‘What is to be done?’ about chronic poverty. In particular, it tries to synthesize what different development actors (broadly government, donors and civil society) can do to help individuals and households escape from chronic poverty while preventing others from falling into it. It also asks what role panel data has to play in increasing our understanding of chronic poverty and poverty dynamics in the future. As the studies in this volume, and the Chronic Poverty Research Centre’s (CPRC) wider research demonstrate, chronic poverty is the outcome of complex interactions between resources, institutions and relations which inevitably vary considerably between countries. If they are to be effective, actions to reduce chronic poverty must therefore be contextspecific. There can be no blueprint solutions or silver bullets for reducing chronic poverty. Nonetheless, certain themes recur time and again in country studies of poverty dynamics and persistence, which suggests a number of promising directions for reducing chronic poverty. These are reviewed in the next two sections. PROMISING DIRECTIONS FOR REDUCING CHRONIC POVERTY Reducing chronic poverty involves reducing the stock of chronically poor people by increasing the flows of people escaping chronic poverty while reducing the flow of people entering it. The next sub-section discusses policies and other interventions that...

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