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Rural Poverty: Old Challenges in New Contexts

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  • Stefan Dercon

Abstract

Poverty is still a predominantly rural phenomenon. However, the context of rural poverty has been changing across the world, with high growth in some economies and stagnation in others. Furthermore, increased openness in many economies has affected the specific role of agricultural growth for rural poverty reduction. This paper revisits an 'old' question: how does growth and poverty reduction come about if most of the poor live in rural areas and are dependent on agriculture? What is the role of agricultural and rural development in this respect? Focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa, and using economic theory and the available evidence, the author comes to the conclusion that changing contexts has meant that agricultural growth is only crucial as an engine for growth in particular settings, more specifically in landlocked, resource-poor countries, which are often also characterized by relatively low potential for agriculture. However, extensive market failures in key factor markets and likely spatial effects give a remaining crucial role for rural development policies, including focusing on agriculture, to assist the inclusion of the rural poor in growth and development. How to overcome these market failures remains a key issue for further research. Copyright The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / the world bank . All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal The World Bank Research Observer.

Volume (Year): 24 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 1-28

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:24:y:2009:i:1:p:1-28

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  1. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1989. "Credit Market Constraints, Consumption Smoothing and the Accumulation of Durable Production Assets in Low-Income Countries: Investments in Bullocks in India," Bulletins 7487, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
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  3. Ndulu,Benno J. & O'Connell,Stephen A. & Bates,Robert H. & Collier,Paul & Soludo,Chukwuma C., 2009. "The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960–2000," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521127752, October.
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  6. Stefan Dercon, 1996. "Wealth, risk and activity choices: cattle in Western Tanzania," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/1996-08, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. David E. Sahn & David C. Stifel, 2003. "Urban--Rural Inequality in Living Standards in Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 12(4), pages 564-597, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Katsushi S. Imai & Jing You, 2011. "Poverty Dynamics of Households in Rural China: Identifying Multiple Pathways for Poverty Transition," Discussion Paper Series DP2011-35, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
  2. Rijkers, Bob & Söderbom, Måns, 2013. "The Effects of Risk and Shocks on Non-Farm Enterprise Development in Rural Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 119-136.
  3. Dethier, Jean-Jacques & Effenberger, Alexandra, 2011. "Agriculture and development : a brief review of the literature," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5553, The World Bank.
  4. de Janvry, Alain, 2009. "Agriculture for development: New paradigm and options for success," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 53202, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  5. Christiaensen, Luc & Demery, Lionel & Kuhl, Jesper, 2011. "The (evolving) role of agriculture in poverty reduction--An empirical perspective," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 239-254, November.
  6. Hazell, Peter B.R., 2012. "Elmhirst Lecture, 27th International Conference of Agricultural Economists, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil August 2012 : Options for African Agriculture in an Era of High Food and Energy Prices," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 127070, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  7. Katsushi S. Imai & Jing You, 2013. "Poverty Dynamics of Households in Rural China," Discussion Paper Series DP2013-16, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University, revised Jun 2013.
  8. Durevall, Dick & Loening, Josef L. & Birru, Yohannes A., 2010. "Inflation Dynamics and Food Prices in Ethiopia," Working Papers in Economics 478, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 03 Jun 2013.
  9. Louw Pienaar & Dieter von Fintel, 2013. "Hunger in the former apartheid homelands: Determinants of converging food security 100 years after the 1913 Land Act," Working Papers 26/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  10. Oya, Carlos, 2010. "Rural inequality, wage employment and labour market formation in Africa : historical and micro-level evidence," ILO Working Papers 458221, International Labour Organization.
  11. Rijkers, Bob & Costa, Rita, 2012. "Gender and rural non-farm entrepreneurship," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6066, The World Bank.
  12. Barbier, Edward B., 2012. "Natural capital, ecological scarcity and rural poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6232, The World Bank.
  13. Barbier, Edward B., 2013. "Structural change, dualism and economic development : the role of the vulnerable poor on marginal lands," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6456, The World Bank.
  14. Gloede, Oliver & Menkhoff, Lukas & Waibel, Hermann, 2012. "Shocks, individual risk attitude, and vulnerability to poverty among rural households in Thailand and Vietnam," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-508, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  15. Rigg, Jonathan & Salamanca, Albert & Parnwell, Michael, 2012. "Joining the Dots of Agrarian Change in Asia: A 25 Year View from Thailand," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 1469-1481.
  16. Ronald Ravinesh Kumar & Radika Kumar, 2012. "Exploring sectoral elasticity vis-�-vis per worker income with a focus to agriculture: a study of Sub-Saharan Africa," African Journal of Economic and Sustainable Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 1(1), pages 27-48.

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