Working Paper

From Poverty Traps to Indigenous Philanthropy: Complexity in a Rapidly Changing World

Published on 2 July 2013

Poverty persists around the world and is exacerbated by growing inequality especially within countries. The majority of the poor are ‘trapped’ in specific rural and urban localities in countries now classified as middle-income where domestic policy and resources are not sufficiently focused on poverty and where international aid is not significant.

The majority of those who manage to move out of poverty report that they achieve this through their own initiative, adapting to changing circumstances. Poverty must be treated as principally domestic and local, with the poor as the principal actors in its reduction.

Poverty is characterised by its multidimensionality, spanning across a number of factors that can be broadly related to education, health, finance and environment, and which can create poverty traps from which the poor have difficulty in escaping. The dominance and interconnectedness of any of these factors can differ between poverty traps, as can the effect they have on different population groups, with young children and girls being particularly vulnerable.

Traditional coping mechanisms help alleviate some immediate aspects of poverty in some populations, but with increasing urbanisation they are weakening considerably, and a greater ‘monetisation’ of help is emerging. More modern coping mechanisms have come into play, not just support from the diaspora, but also help mechanisms being set up by the growing number of wealthy and influential indigenous philanthropists in developing countries, who are on the ‘winning side’ of growing inequality.

Publication details

published by
Jarrett, S.
IDS Working Paper, issue 425
978 1 78118 121 8


About this publication

Research themes
Inequalities and Poverty

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