Poverty: A Persistent Global Reality

Poverty: A Persistent Global Reality

Poverty: A Persistent Global Reality

Poverty: A Persistent Global Reality

Synopsis

Poverty is one of the most long-standing problems facing governments and populations throughout the world. No matter how it is measured -- whether in prosperous times or during depressions, whether in agricultural, industrial, or post-industrial societies and despite anti-poverty programs and aid to the poor, poverty continues. The poverty rate in the industrialized west ranges between ten and fifteen per cent and is much higher in agricultural societies. In post-socialist countries it is beginning to be admitted and identified. The chapters of Poverty focus on ten different countries and the socio-economic and historical context with which poverty exists, its extent and nature, its causes and the measures that have been taken to mitigate it. Contributors include Hugh Shewell, James Midgley and Michelle Livermore.

Excerpt

Poverty is one of the most ubiquitous and long-standing problems facing governments and populations throughout the world. No matter how it is defined or measured; whether in prosperous times or during depressions; whether in agricultural, industrial, or post-industrial societies; and despite anti-poverty programmes and aid to the poor, poverty continues. While poverty definitions, of course, differ as between countries, using their own country definitions, 1.1 billion people-one-fifth of the human race-live in poverty of whom 600 million are extremely poor (United Nations 1994:76). Up to 510 million are seriously undernourished (United Nations 1990:5). Throughout the industrialised West, the poverty rate ranges between 10 and 15 per cent of the population (Townsend 1993). In agricultural societies it is as high as 70 per cent (Bangladesh) (Townsend 1993). And in post-socialist and neo-socialist societies it is now beginning to be admitted and identified (Mroz and Popkin 1995).

This volume comprises a conceptual chapter on the meaning and measurement of poverty and ten commissioned country chapters, each of which examines, in the light of the socio-economic and historical contexts within which poverty exists, the extent and nature of poverty, its causes, and measure that have been taken to mitigate it. Each country chapter is tightly structured to facilitate comparisons. The final chapter provides a summary and conclusion.

The material included in this volume relates to early 1997. Since then, however, world events have overtaken us. Two events in particular need to be commented on. First, the consequences of the hand over of Hong Kong by the United Kingdom to China in July 1997 have not been explored, although its possible implications are dealt with. Second, the consequences of the election of a Labour

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