Poverty

IDS research and analysis aims to improve understanding of the geography and causes of poverty and vulnerability, and produce effective remedies towards poverty reduction.

Poverty research - woman on railway track

Eradicating poverty in all its forms remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Globally, more than 800 million people are still living on less than US$1.25 a day. There are many dimensions to their deprivation, low and irregular incomes, lack of safe drinking water, poor housing, limited access to health and education, and social exclusion and discrimination. Their poverty makes them extremely vulnerable to natural and economic hazards. In many cases, extreme poverty persists over time. Importantly, 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.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a bold commitment to end poverty in all forms and dimensions by 2030. This involves targeting the most vulnerable, increasing access to basic resources and services, and supporting communities affected by conflict and climate-related disasters. Conventional frameworks for understanding development and poverty have focused on money, commodities and economic growth. Our research seeks to challenge orthodox views on the nature of poverty and contribute to a new paradigm for development centred on human wellbeing that will contribute to the achievement of the Gobal Goals. 

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Photo of Becky Mitchell More details

Photo of Cathérine Müller, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction research team More details

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Honorary Associate Ted Jackson More details

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Photo of Jackie Shaw, Research Fellow in the Participation research cluster More details

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Photo of Keetie Roelen, Research Fellow in the Centre for Social Protection, IDS More details

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Protecting the rural poor against the economic consequences of major illness

Major illness in the family has become an important cause of household impoverishment in China and the ex-command economies of Southeast Asia, as these countries have managed the transition to a market economy. More details

Research on the Poverty Impact of Market and Enabling Business Environment Programmes in Kenya

To what extent does private sector development work in Kenya contribute to a reduction in poverty and inequality? This review aims to assess the evidence base for DFID Kenya’s Wealth Creation Pillar programming. More details

Researching the Links between Social Protection and Children’s Care

This project aims to investigate the links between social protection and children's care. More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre

The STEPS Centre is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development. More details

States Delivering for Poor People

This project entails an initial scoping study in Rajasthan and Western UP to firm up research questions that are relevant and useful for understanding the politics and implementation of the MGNREGA. More details

Systematic Review of Private Participation in Infrastructure

The purpose of this review is to inform Development Finance Institution (DFI) policy so as to improve the development outcomes resulting from their engagement in the infrastructure sectors of low income countries. More details

The Impacts of the Global Economic Downturn on Communities and Poverty in the UK

Economic shocks in the form of record rises in food and fuel prices followed by financial crisis and recession have driven home the significance of global economic interdependence for people around the world. These economic crises have confirmed a sense of global connectedness at a time of high concern about the impacts of climate change, epidemics, and conflict. More details

The Micro-Economics of the Crisis: Identifying the Vulnerable from National Quantitative Data

IDS has already conducted a qualitative analysis of the social impact of the crisis in five countries. This research project aims to use the results from a new round of qualitative research to inform detailed quantitative analysis of existing nationally representative quantitative surveys in two countries. More details

The New Bottom Billion

New IDS research shows that the global poverty 'problem' is changing. There is a new 'bottom billion' of 960m poor people or 72 per cent of the world's poor who live not in poor countries but in middle-income countries (MICs). More details

The Political Economy Determinants of Policy Implementation: The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in India

The IDS led strand of the project will address the role of state capacity and elite commitment in explaining NREGS implementation through qualitative methods at two different levels of analysis. More details

The Social Impacts of Crisis

How have people and communities experienced recent global economic shocks? In early 2009, the Social Impacts of Crisis project started work in 12 community 'listening posts' in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Yemen and Zambia to answer this question. More details

The World Social Science Report 2015-2016

The next World Social Science Report due to be published in 2016 will focus on the critical contemporary issues of inequalities and justice. More details

Women in Local Peacebuilding Research

Documenting the role of women in local peacebuilding, conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Liberia. More details

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Wp514_FrontCover

From Poverty to Prosperity: Explaining China’s Growth

IDS Working Paper 514 (2018)

This paper proposes an institutional analytic framework to explain the path an economy takes from poverty to prosperity. Close examination of the development history of China since the Xinhai Revolution in 1911 under this framework indicates that it is the combination of the unbiased single-peaked governance and an access-opening economy that makes the high-speed growth of China over 40 years. More details

Non-IDS publication

Welfare Spending and Political Conflict in Latin America, 1970-2010

World Development 107 (2018)

In this article we study an age-old question in political economy: does government spending on welfare ensure peace? This question was at the heart of the European Welfare State model of the early 20th century, and remains relevant today in face of rising inequalities and political conflict. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Haiti: Who are the Ultra Poor? Fonkoze’s Programme for the Ultra Poor

The results testify to the ultra poverty of CLM households. They underline the importance of the graduation model in addressing poverty in Haiti and the case for its incorporation within the national social protection framework More details

Maintenance Affordances and Structural Inequalities: Mobile Phone Use by Low-Income Women in the United Kingdom

This article shows the impact of “maintenance affordances” on women’s capabilities to use mobile phones to lead lives they value. More details

Keeping African Girls in School with Better Sanitary Care

For young girls in developing countries, not knowing how to manage their periods can hinder access to education. Research from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London demonstrates that in rural Uganda, providing free sanitary products and lessons about puberty to girls may increase their attendance at school. More details

ESRC-DFID Research for Policy and Practice: Women's Life Choices

This collection of ESRC-DFID-funded research identifies critical elements that are important to address if women’s and girls’ lives are to change for the better. The research looks at the mobility constraints experienced by girls and how a lack of access to means of transport hampers their access to paid work, health services, and schooling. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Fonkoze's CLM Ultra Poverty Programme: Understanding and Improving Child Development and Wellbeing

This report represents baseline findings from a quantitative evaluation assessing the impact of Fonkoze’s Chemen Lavi Miyò (CLM) programme, or 'the pathway to a better life' programme, on child wellbeing in Haiti. The CLM programme is a so-called ‘graduation programme’, aiming to set people on a sustainable pathway out of poverty. More details

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What Are the Implications of Ageing and Demographic Change in Rwanda?

IDS Policy Briefing 150 (2018)

Having made rapid improvements in life expectancy and fertility as a result of significant investments in the health system and reductions in poverty, Rwanda faces the positive prospects of a ‘demographic dividend’. However, the projected growth in the number of older people over the next 30 years will present significant challenges. More details

A teaser for Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation in Urbanising Contexts

Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation in Urbanising Contexts

Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation (2018)

The world’s urban population is expected to rise from 3.9 to 6.4 billion people between 2014 and 2050, with 90% of this increase in Asia and Africa (UN, 2014). More details

IDS publications on international development research

Do Trees on Farms Matter in African Agriculture

World Bank (2018)

This study highlights the prevalence and importance of trees in African agriculture. Trees on farms provide a significant source of income for many households across the continent. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Poverty, voice and advocacy: a Haitian study

Over the past ten years, Fonkoze (a non-profit organisation in Haiti) has adapted the 'graduation' model of lifting families out of extreme poverty through its Chemen Lavi Miyò (CLM) or 'pathway to a better life' programme. Yet despite international recognition for this approach, Fonkoze’s work is little known within Haitian policy circles on social protection and poverty. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Public-Private Collaborations: Can they Deliver Secure and Inclusive Rural Economies?

This paper looks at the role of public-private collaborations, specifically public-private partnerships (PPPs), in enabling secure and inclusive rural economies. More details

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Shame, Poverty and Social Protection

IDS Working Paper 489 (2017)

Despite long-standing conceptual considerations of shame in understanding poverty and debates about its moral, social and emotional qualities, the role of shame in poverty reduction policies remains largely unexplored. More details

Poor Children in Rich Households and Vice Versa: A Blurred Picture or Hidden Realities?

The European Journal of Development Research 30.2 (2017)

An expanding evidence base suggests that children experiencing monetary and multidimensional poverty are not the same. This article breaks new ground by providing a unique mixed methods investigation of drivers of child poverty mismatch in Ethiopia and Vietnam, considering the role of measurement error and individualistic and structural factors. More details

NewDirections_brief

Reframing Gender Justice in an Unequal, Volatile World: IDS’ Directions for Future Research on Gender and Sexuality in Development

At a time of major changes in global politics and trends, and major shifts in international development following the establishment of the global Sustainable Development Goals in Agenda 2030, the Gender and Sexuality cluster at the Institute of Development Studies engaged in collaborative discussions and consultations over nine months with partner organisations, networks, external experts and policymakers. More details

NewDirections_report

Reframing Gender Justice in an Unequal, Volatile World: IDS’ Directions for Future Research on Gender and Sexuality in Development

We here aim to outline priority directions for future research on gender and sexuality in development, which are needed to advance our understanding of gender and sexuality in an increasingly unequal, polarised and volatile world. More details

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Why Youth Aspirations and Family Circumstances Matter for Entrepreneurship Interventions

IDS Policy Briefing 131 (2017)

Over the last decade the Government of Tanzania has invested in entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and poverty. It has developed various national policies and guidelines alongside entrepreneurship programmes in partnership with development actors and financial institutions, particularly for youth from poor backgrounds. More details

PB132_FrontCover

Towards Secure and Decent Work for Migrant Youth in Ghana

IDS Policy Briefing 132 (2017)

Poverty and poor livelihood prospects are driving tens of thousands of young people from rural northern regions to southern cities in Ghana in the hope of achieving better jobs and greater social mobility. More details

Non-IDS publication

Solar PV and poverty alleviation in China: Rhetoric and reality

STEPS Working Papers 93 (2017)

In 2014, China announced an ambitious plan to help alleviate rural poverty through deploying distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in poor areas More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability Centre logo

Sustainable Energy for All: Innovation, Technology and Pro-Poor Green Transformations

Despite decades of effort and billions of dollars spent, two thirds of people in sub-Saharan Africa still lack access to electricity, a vital pre-cursor to economic development and poverty reduction. More details

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