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Chronic Poverty: An Introduction

Tim Braunholtz-Speight


Policy Brief No.1/2007. Up to 420 million people (at a conservative estimate) are trapped in chronic absolute poverty. They, and their children, will make up a large part of the 900 million people who will still be $1-a-day poor in 2015 even if the Millennium Development Goals are met. They experience deprivation over many years, often their entire lives, and commonly pass poverty on to their children. They have benefited least from economic growth and development. For them poverty is not simply about having a low income: it is about multidimensional deprivation – hunger, undernutrition, dirty drinking water, illiteracy, having no access to health services, social isolation and exploitation. Overcoming this requires policy-makers to reorder their priorities and set their sights higher than the current orthodoxy on poverty reduction.

Action on chronic poverty needs to:

  • Prioritise livelihood security through social protection.
  • Ensure chronically poor people can take up opportunities.
  • Take empowerment seriously. 
  • Recognise obligations to provide resources.
  • Recognise that it is the chronically poor themselves who are the leading actors in overcoming their poverty.

Publication Type(s)

CPRC Policy Brief


concepts policy international comparisons data


PB_1.pdf PDF 341.0 KB

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