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Untold stories: the human face of poverty dynamics

Martin Prowse


Life histories offer an important window for policy makers, and should be brought to the policy table much more frequently. Life histories show the human face of chronic poverty. Such vignettes provide  concrete examples of poverty traps – such as insecurity, social discrimination and poor working conditions – and how poor people struggle to escape them. The vignettes presented here illustrate how social protection measures have improved the wellbeing of four out of five selected individuals. They also show the importance of kin and social networks, and how these connections can have ambivalent effects. Whilst life histories are not representative, they highlight key  themes and processes which are ‘typical’ of individuals with similar sets of sociobiographical characteristics who live in similar social, economic and political circumstances.

Publication Type(s)

CPRC Policy Brief


social relations livelihoods risk


PB_11.pdf PDF 774.6 KB

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