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Patterns of socio-economic mobility in rural Bangladesh: lessons from life-history interviews

Peter Davis


Patterns of socio-economic mobility are examined using data from 293 life-history interviews conducted in eight districts of rural Bangladesh. Socio-economic mobility is examined as the product of interactions between endowments (assets, capabilities, liabilities and disabilities) and life events (upward opportunities and downward pressures). Important positive endowments (assets and capabilities) included land, livestock, business capital and business acumen. Important negative endowments (liabilities and disabilities) included chronic illness and impending dowry. Endowments determined how people were affected by events in the form of upward opportunities or downward pressures. The life-history interviews show how people with low levels of the key endowments were less able to cope with common downward pressures or to exploit key opportunities. People with poor endowments of assets or capabilities also often employed destructive coping strategies while people with higher initial levels of key endowments coped better with downward pressures, exploited opportunities, and were more likely to exit poverty. 

This paper is part of a series of CPRC working papers on rural Bangladesh.

Publication Type(s)

CPRC Working Paper


poverty dynamics Bangladesh chronic poverty life history life histories in rural Bangladesh series

ISBN: 978-1-906433-69-7


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