Simon Feeny and Mark McGillivray
This article examines the relationship between foreign aid and poverty in developing countries, with the goal of determining whether donor governments are motivated and actively set out to reduce poverty in developing countries through the provision of aid but with the impact of aid on poverty reduction. It begins with an overview of the aid and poverty record based on global data from the 1980s onward, with particular emphasis on Official Development Assistance (ODA). It then considers the analytics of aid and poverty before reviewing the relevant literature, including studies that address the impact of aid on growth and growth elasticity of poverty. The article argues that aid has had a marginally positive impact on poverty reduction in developing countries, and that poverty would be slightly higher without it.
Rod Hick and Tania Burchardt
This article examines capability deprivation as the basis for analyzing poverty. The capability approach, developed initially by Amartya Sen, questions the “informational space” on which considerations of poverty, inequality, justice, and so forth, should be based. According to the capability approach, the appropriate “space” for analyzing poverty is not what people have, nor how they feel, but what they can do and be. After providing an overview of the concepts that comprise the capability approach, this article discusses three key questions within the literature regarding the nature of the approach, namely: the question of functioning and/or capabilities, the question of a capability list, and the question of aggregation. It also describes some prominent empirical applications that have been inspired by the capability approach and concludes with an assessment of the current state-of-the-art literature on the capability approach.
Mark R. Rank
This concluding article proposes a new paradigm in which to understand poverty, focusing primarily on the United States even as several dimensions of the paradigm apply globally across other countries. It first considers the major tenets of the “old” paradigm, which is to a large extent a reflection and affirmation of both the free market economic structure and the culture of individualism that have profoundly shaped the American ideology. It then introduces the new paradigm, which aims to stimulate a fundamental shift in how we conceptualize and act toward the problem of poverty, and some of its major themes: poverty results from structural failings; poverty is a conditional state in which individuals move in and out; poverty constitutes deprivation; poverty as injustice; the condition of poverty affects and undermines each one of us.
Celeste Watkins-Hayes and Elyse Kovalsky
This article examines the trope of deservingness, one of the most enduring narratives used by government officials, the media, and the larger public to classify poor people and to determine whether they are worthy of assistance. It first considers the concept of deservingness and how it fits into popular explanations of poverty and the work of distributing public resources. It then describes the use of the concept of deservingness throughout the history of poor relief in the United States, with particular emphasis on how race, gender, and citizenship have been deployed to shape deservingness narratives in two important areas of social provision: cash assistance and health care. Finally, it reviews recent trends in the deployment of the deservingness/undeservingness discourse, highlighting areas that require more analysis.
This article examines the dynamics of poverty and explains why poverty dynamics studies are necessary: to estimate the risk of impoverishment and the probability of escaping poverty; to identify the reasons associated with poverty descents and escapes; to distinguish between transient and chronic poverty; and to elucidate the social mobility prospects of individuals in different economic situations. The article begins with an overview of three types of approaches used in investigating poverty dynamics: panel data studies, participatory poverty assessments and ethnographic studies, and mixed-method studies. This is followed by a discussion of key findings from poverty dynamics studies; one finding is that poverty creation and poverty reduction occur everywhere in tandem. The article concludes by outlining future directions for research into poverty dynamics.
David Brady and Markus Jäntti
This article explores the interrelationships among poverty, economic performance, and inequality in rich countries. It argues that poverty rises and falls with the business cycle and economic performance. Business cycle refers to macroeconomic fluctuations in economic growth, unemployment, and employment. Higher economic growth and lower unemployment rates mean more individuals employed. Because a job is one of the most effective ways to remove a household from poverty, macroeconomic performance should directly influence individual poverty. This article first describes the statistical models used to estimate the effects of economic performance on poverty before reviewing studies that assess the effects of economic performance on poverty and income inequality. In terms of economic performance, it analyzes the effects of the business cycle, economic growth, unemployment rates, and GDP per capita.
Emily Hannum and Yu Xie
This article explores the correlation between poverty and education. Poverty has been a core concept of interest in research on educational inequality. However, the conceptualization of poverty in empirical educational research does not always, or even usually, conform to definitions and measures that are prevalent in the poverty literature. To further complicate matters, the educational literature subscribes to no uniform set of alternative conceptualizations. This article begins with a discussion of three important functions of education in almost every modern society: imparting knowledge, socializing children, and transmitting family advantage or disadvantage. It then considers the impact of poverty on education at the national level and how education is affected by community and neighborhood poverty as well as household poverty. It concludes with an assessment of the impact of education on poverty.
Jérôme Gautié and Sophie Ponthieux
This article examines the phenomenon of working poverty and issues relating to employment and the working poor. It first provides an overview of the problems of definition and measurement regarding the working poor, along with the consequences of the diversity of definitions. In particular, it considers different current definitions of the statistical category “working poor” and how definitions affect the assessment of the in-work poverty phenomenon. It also provides a “statistical” portrait of the working poor and explores how the risk of working poverty has evolved in the 2000s. Finally, it discusses the causes of working poverty, including low income at the individual level and the role of welfare states, and outlines potential remedies in terms of public policies.
Janet C. Gornick and Natascia Boeri
This article examines the link between gender and poverty. It begins with a discussion of selected theoretical perspectives that have informed the study of poverty, with emphasis on economic insufficiency, capabilities deprivation, and social exclusion as well as the feminization of poverty. It then considers key contributions to the empirical literature on poverty and gender, focusing on interdisciplinary studies that define poverty based on economic resources. It also reviews selected empirical results from a group of twenty-six high- and middle-income countries, based on data from the Luxembourg Income Study Database. More specifically, it explores the likelihood that women and men live in poor households, and how that likelihood varies by family structure and the strength of their attachment to the labor market. Finally, it explains how the empirical results and the main findings from the literature review contribute to the challenge of evaluating the connection between gender and poverty.
Robert H. Wade
This article highlights ambiguities and indeterminacies in our knowledge about growth, inequality, and poverty, stemming in particular from measurement difficulties and from differences in measures of what is ostensibly the same thing (“poverty,” “inequality”). It examines global income distribution, patterns of economic growth, the movement of countries in the global income hierarchy, trends in income distribution between countries and between individuals or households, and trends in the incidence of “extreme” and “ordinary” poverty. The article begins with a snapshop of world income and population distribution, followed by a discussion on growth and geographical distribution. It then considers income inequality within countries, along with income inequality between countries and all people. It shows that the global income distribution is still highly polarized and that the proportion of the world’s population living in the degree of poverty which kills—“extreme poverty”—has probably fallen over the past several decades.