Poverty in a Dual Economy

Poverty in a Dual Economy

Poverty in a Dual Economy

Poverty in a Dual Economy

Excerpt

The subject of this book is poverty in a "dual economy" -- a particular type of dual economy in which the large majority are nonpoor and a minority are chronically poor. It is the poverty of a minority subgroup, not the poverty of a nation. Yet to understand it we must study not only poor people but the economy as a whole and the poor's position in it.

Many "poverty studies" consist largely of studies of the poor. An unfortunate, though no doubt unintended, consequence of this approach is that it leaves the impression that poverty is a consequence of the characteristics of the poor. In reality, however, one does not necessarily come to understand the causes and implications of poverty by studying poor people. In fact, it may even be more fruitful to study the rich, although that is not the approach we shall use here.

Our purpose in this book is to examine (1) what poverty is and who is poor, (2) the effects and implications of the existence of poverty in a dual economy, (3) the fundamental causes of poverty, and (4) ways of ending poverty.

The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the concept of poverty (which is less self-explanatory than one might think) and the type of dual economy with which we are concerned. Chapter 2 will examine a number of the major characteristics of poverty, particularly those which are both its causes and its effects, thereby forming a vicious circle. Chapter 3 will develop a theoretical model to explain the existence or absence of poverty under given conditions and the forms it may take. Chapters 4 and 5 will examine the role of the welfare system in sustaining the poor and in preventing, alleviating, and perhaps perpetuating poverty. Finally, Chapter 6 will examine some nonwelfare approaches to combating poverty.

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