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Call for Papers: Asset Inheritance and the Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty.

20 Jan 2010

The “Empirical Approaches to the Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty” theme of the Chronic Poverty Research Centre is interested in commissioning original empirical work on the relationship between the inheritance (or failure to inherit) physical assets (and financial resources) and the intergenerational transmission of poverty. Inheritance is one of the major means of property transfer. Inheritance practices, regulated through law and social norms, can exclude individuals, particularly women and orphaned children, from rights to property. This alienation from property has been linked to economic decline and the individuals and their households becoming trapped in long term and chronic poverty. Limited access to and control of productive resources can restrict livelihood opportunities; constrain coping strategies in the face of shocks or negative trends and inhibit investments in human capital formation. Combined with wider failures in policy or public provision, these can lead to poverty being transmitted intergenerationally. However, inheritance can also restrict mobility. For example, sons inherit land equally in much of India, but the eldest son stays to farm it, while others are free to move into the non-farm sector or migrate, enabling upward mobility. Outcomes depend on the relative returns to land and other assets and capabilities.

Our priority is to generate strong empirical evidence on the relationship between inheritance and poverty outcomes. We are particularly interested in empirical evidence from low income developing countries. We also have a preference for work in or on one of the CPRC partner countries: (see

We also seek to influence policy and practice and wish to publish good quality and original work written in an accessible way.

Key questions

1. To what extent and how do inheritance laws, norms and practices influence chronic and intergenerationally transmitted poverty?
2. Where gender differentials in asset inheritance exist, do they increase the likelihood that women will experience differential levels of poverty, over their life course?
3. Where birth order affects inheritance, do differentials increase the likelihood that siblings will experience differential levels of poverty, over their life course?
4. What impact do inheritance norms and practices have on the poverty experienced by women (particularly widows, separated and divorced women, non-favoured polygamous wives) and their children?
5. What policy innovations in or around the area of asset inheritance would support equity in outcome and mitigate the intergenerational transmission of poverty?

For more information see the Call for papers.