Poverty, Inequality and Wellbeing
IDS’ Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction (VPR) team is the go-to place for new thinking and new ideas on poverty, inequality and wellbeing. Our research challenges orthodox views on the nature of poverty, how poverty is understood and how policy can best accelerate poverty reduction.
Our work focuses on poverty and wellbeing through the lens of equity and inequality. Poverty is not only about ‘poor’ people but also about the social and economic inequalities that compound and reproduce poverty. Social structures and relationships between the poor and the non-poor, middle class and elites and donors and NGOs are also key.
Traditional ways of thinking about poverty, inequality and wellbeing are increasingly being questioned and policy spaces are opening for us to rethink poverty, inequality and wellbeing.The UN poverty targets, the Millennium Development Goals, are due for renewal in 2015. This process may result in a second generation of MDGs. In this context, we ask how these debates and other policy discussions should take account of the new geography of global poverty and how can they factor in new thinking on the nature of poverty, inequality and wellbeing?
Our work on poverty, inequality and wellbeing focuses on three key areas including:
- New concepts of poverty, vulnerability and wellbeing – what are the new and emerging ways of thinking about poverty, vulnerability, and wellbeing and their interactions and what do these changes mean for policy and research?
- Different experiences of poverty, vulnerability and wellbeing - How does the experience of poverty differ by countries at different levels of development by social groups, by ages and by gender?
- Contemporary patterns and trends of poverty, vulnerability and wellbeing – How are global and regional patterns of poverty, vulnerability and wellbeing changing and what do these changes mean for policy and research?
Key projects include:
The new context of post economic crisis and climate change adaptation present an opportunity to rethink development progress and indicators. Although the core concerns of the MDGs such as nutrition, health, education are likely to remain valid after 2015 in some way, how best can their progress best be assessed? The Vulnerability, Poverty and Reduction team’s work is exploring the types of indicators and institutional architecture and UN System required to underpin a post 2015 development framework and the kind of global processes of deliberation that are needed to build political momentum for 2015.
In a world where many experience unprecedented levels of wellbeing, chronic poverty remains a major concern for many developing countries and the international community. Conventional frameworks for understanding development and poverty have focused on money, commodities and economic growth. The Vulnerability, Poverty and Reduction team’s work on wellbeing approach seeks to challenge these conventional approaches and contribute to a new paradigm for development centred on human wellbeing.
The global poverty 'problem' is changing. There is a new 'bottom billion' of 960 million poor people or 72% of the world's poor who live not in poor countries but in middle-income countries. This is a dramatic change from just two decades ago, when 93% of poor people lived in low-income countries. Research undertaken by the Vulnerability, Poverty and Reduction team also suggests that the trend towards middle-income poverty will continue until 2020 and 2030 irrespective of economic growth. The team’s work also explores the implications of these shifts for poverty reduction strategies as poverty increasingly turns from an international to a national distribution problem, and that governance and domestic taxation and redistribution policies become of more importance than overseas development assistance.
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