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 Jo Howard, Research Fellow in the IDS Participation 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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IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of Naomi Hossain, IDS Research Fellow More details

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Photo of Nick Nisbett, IDS Research Fellow in the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction team More details

Photo of Patricia Justino, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Research Fellow More details

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Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA)

Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) is a five-year, DFID-funded, research programme consortium which aims to produce new evidence and policy insights into different pathways to agricultural commercialisation in Africa and their differential outcomes for local people and economies. More details

Analysis of Maharashtra’s Decline in Childhood Stunting

UNICEF and IDS are collaborating to undertake an in-depth analysis of the factors that may have led to the 16% decline in child stunting in Maharashtra evidenced in surveys covering the period 2006-2012. More details

Burundi Graduation Programme Evaluation

In December 2012, Concern Burundi launched its 'Graduation Model Programme' in two provinces in Burundi to work with extremely poor and marginalised communities. More details

Challenging the Investment Climate Paradigm: Governance and Growth in Vietnam

This project examines a key assumption which underlies one of the main approaches to poverty reduction currently advocated and practised by many international development agencies. More details

Child Vulnerability Assessment, UNICEF Myanmar

IDS has been commissioned to analyse the most recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) data and write a report on child vulnerability, which can be utilized for evidence based programming and advocacy to improve children's status in Myanmar. More details

Developing the Inclusive Economies Measurement Framework: Applying to Different Contexts and Exploring Theories of Change

The Rockefeller Foundation defines inclusive economies as ones that are equitable, participatory, growing, stable, and sustainable. This project is developing and applying indicators of inclusive economies at sub-national scales, such as cities and intra-national market systems. More details

DFID Innovation Prizes for Environment and Development

Running innovation prizes that will improve poor people's resilience to climate change. More details

Environment and PRSPs

This research project was initiated and conceptualised in the framework of the Poverty Environment Partnership (PEP), an informal network of around 30-donor and non-governmental organisations that works on strengthening the nexus between poverty reduction and environmental protection in development cooperation. More details

Fighting Over Land: Theory and Empirical Evidence from Colombia

The aim of this project is to develop a research agenda on the long-term effect of civil conflict on institutions, particularly on land tenure structure, in Colombia. More details

Food Security, Gender Equality and Peace-Building: Theoretical Framework and Future Agendas

IDS researchers have been commissioned to generate knowledge and evidence-based, actionable recommendations to governments and other stakeholders on the nexus between support to food and nutrition security and building resilient livelihoods, peace processes and stability, and how to integrate gender issues into appropriate policies and actions related to food and nutrition security in situations where conflict exists, has recently ceased, or is likely to reoccur. More details

Future Research Leaders ‘Reducing Poverty in the First 18 years of Life'

This proposed research responds to these concerns by using monetary and non-monetary measures to analyse child poverty dynamics, assessing overlaps and mismatches between those measures and investigating reasons for potential differences More details

Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa (GroFutures)

GroFutures is a 4-year interdisciplinary research project aiming to develop the scientific basis and participatory management processes by which groundwater resources can be used sustainably for poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa. More details

Haitian Graduation Research

The Haitian Graduation Research Programme is a partnership between IDS and Fonkoze. The research has five components designed to understand better the impact of Fonkoze's Graduation Programme for the extreme poor. More details

IDS BRAC Partnership: ESRC Funded Research on Graduation as Reslilience

What determines the success of a poverty eradication programme? More details

Impact Evaluation for the UNICEF SCT Project in Oromia and SNNPR

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is collaborating with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) to conduct an impact evaluation of the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) programme in Oromia and SNNP Regions of Ethiopia for UNICEF Ethiopia. More details

Impact Evaluation of Swedfund's Poverty Impact

This project addresses the following question: Have the investments undertaken by Swedfund contributed to poverty reduction and, if so, to what extent and how? More details

Informal Work and Wellbeing in Urban South Asia: Who Succeeds, Who Fails and Under What Conditions?

This study proposes an exploration of the determinants of wellbeing for informal workers living in informal settlements across a diverse set of urbanising localities in Bangladesh and India. We will present empirical evidence on what patterns and gradations of wellbeing success and failure are emerging for women and men engaged in informal work and living in informal settlements. More details

Market Based Solutions for the Extreme Poor

Studies have shown that it is often wealthier people in a community who benefit from market approaches to combatting poverty – men more than women, non-disabled more than disabled. So how and to what extent can market-based solutions improve the lives of extremely poor people? More details

Pathways to Inclusive Development through Innovation, Technology and Change

Pathways to Inclusive Development through Innovation, Technology and Change is developing a framework to analyse alternative pathways that link different forms of technological innovation, and evaluate resulting structural change and inclusion outcomes in low-income countries. More details

Pathways to Stronger Futures in Haiti

It is widely understood that poverty undermines early childhood development (ECD). In turn, poor ECD reinforces intergenerational transmission of poverty. Economic strengthening through comprehensive social protection may offer a 'double boon': it can improve ECD in the short-term and reduce poverty in the long-run. More details

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View all Research Theme's publications

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The Changing Pattern of Poverty in China: Issues for Research and Policy

IDS Working Paper 67 (1998)

Under the Maoist regime, China was held up by many as a successful model of development, providing basic needs including primary health care and education to a large population at very low levels of income. Since reform, the country has again become a 'model' of poverty reduction through economic growth. More details

IDS Working Paper

Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: A Framework for Analysis

IDS Working Paper 72 (1998)

The concept of 'sustainable livelihoods' is increasingly important in the development debate. This paper outlines a framework for analysing sustainable livelihoods, defined here in relation to five key indicators. More details

IDS Working Paper

Being Poor and Becoming Poor: Poverty Status and Poverty Transitions in Rural Pakistan

IDS Working Paper 79 (1998)

Conventional poverty profiles and poverty status regressions are often criticised by policy makers for telling them a lot about who the poor are, but very little about what to do to combat poverty. Essentially this is because the correlates of poverty status are distinct from the dynamic processes that lead households to fall into or escape from poverty. More details

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How Can We Know What They Want? Understanding Local Perceptions of Poverty and Ill-Being in Asia

IDS Working Paper 80 (1998)

Aid donors are increasingly focused on poverty eradication and influenced by the principle of participation. They would like more insight into how poor people in poor countries understand the character, causes, correlates and cures of poverty and deprivation. More details

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Social Capital and Poverty in India

IDS Working Paper 61 (1998)

This paper is a motivated by the need to expand research on social capital and its effects on poverty. Studies of social capital and its economic payoffs have tended to focus on industrialised countries, whilst those studies which have focused on developing countries have been based on micro level survey data. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Tactics and Trade-offs: Revisiting the Links Between Gender and Poverty

IDS Bulletin 28.3 (1997)

This IDS Bulletin brings together a range of contributions analysing the interaction between gender and poverty from different disciplinary perspectives. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Urban Poverty: A New Research Agenda

IDS Bulletin 28.2 (1997)

The developing world is urbanising fast, and urban poverty is on the increase. By 2025, it is estimated that 57% of the population in less developed countries will be living in urban areas. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Whose Reality Counts? Putting the First Last

In this sequel to 'Rural Development: Putting the Last First', Robert Chambers argues that central issues in development have been overlooked, and that many past errors have flowed from domination by those with power. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Deprivation in the North and the South: An Annotated Bibliography on Poverty and Social Exclusion

IDS Development Bibliography 15 (1997)

During the 1980s, new concepts and policies have emerged to explain and combat poverty, inequality, and social disintegration. Within Europe, 'social exclusion' has rapidly become part of debates on deprivation. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Who Changes? Institutionalizing Participation in Development

Drawing on experiences from key development agences around the globe, 'Who Changes?' focuses on the institutional change needed to make participation a reality. More details

IDS Discussion paper

Compensating for Institutional Exclusion? Lessons from Indian Government and Non-Government Credit Interventions for the Poor

IDS Discussion Paper 356 (1996)

This paper conceptualises poverty as the product of multiple, and frequently interlocking, forms of institutional exclusion and focuses on the exclusion of the poor from mainstream financial institutions in India in order to analyse the rules, norms and procedures by which this occurs. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Poverty, Policy and Aid

IDS Bulletin 27.1 (1996)

The World Bank's new strategy for poverty reduction was launched in the World Development Report of 1990. This issue of the Bulletin re-examines the Bank's new poverty agenda focusing on three key issues: the meaning and measurement of poverty, the interaction of poverty and domestic policy, and aid and poverty reduction. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Non-Governmental Organizations and Rural Poverty Alleviation

This book brings together the results of 16 evaluations in four countries (Bangladesh, India, Uganda and Zimbabwe), to provide a detailed assessment of the contribution that NGOs make to rural poverty alleviation. More details

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Poverty Reduction Strategies: A Part for the Poor?

IDS Policy Briefing 13 (1995)

In a new approach announced by the World Bank and IMF, civil society is being offered a part in shaping and implementing national anti-poverty strategies. More details

IDS Classics - publications from the past

Measurement of Poverty and Poverty of Measurement

IDS Bulletin 25.2 (1994)

Conventional measures of poverty relate household per capita income or expenditure estimates to a poverty line derived from a nutrition-based estimate of minimum income or expenditure. More details

The Poor and the Environment: Whose Reality Counts?

IDS Working Paper 3 (1994)

This paper argues that it is the rich and powerful who do most environmental damage. Blaming poor victims of environmental degradation can lead to policies which do more harm than good. More details