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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 is rapidly changing across the world, with high growth in some economies and stagnation in others. Furthermore, increased openness in many economies has affected the necessity of agricultural growth for rural poverty reduction. This paper argues that rural poverty alleviation has to be firmly put in the context of rural-urban interactions, and the broader contexts of trade, growth and poverty reduction. In terms of research, it is important to revisit the `old` question related to sectoral land urban-rural linkages: how does development and poverty reduction come about if most of the poor live in rural areas, dependent on agriculture? What is the role of agricultural development in this respect? We conclude that in closed economies, there are strong arguments to suggest that pro-poor growth has to start in agriculture, but in an open economy, this necessity disappears. But this also means that we should particularly pay attention to those settings and contexts in which rural development is the only hope, such as landlocked, resource poor economies, which are typically also countries with relatively low potential for agriculture. In other settings, agricultural growth is just one of many options for shared growth and poverty reduction. When focusing specifically on rural issues, we should focus on situations in which growth may not be able to unlock the potential of the poor, effectively trapping them in poverty. We consider three examples of poverty traps, related to credit, risk and spatial effects. Especially the latter needs more attention in research and policy analysis. Data that can document the nature of rural-urban linkages, internal migration and other forces that can unlock spatial poverty traps are requried to guide our understanding and policy responses.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number GPRG-WPS-072.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2007
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:gprg-wps-072

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  1. Dercon, Stefan & Christiaensen, Luc, 2011. "Consumption risk, technology adoption and poverty traps: Evidence from Ethiopia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 159-173, November.
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  13. Dercon, Stefan, 1998. "Wealth, risk and activity choice: cattle in Western Tanzania," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 1-42, February.
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  17. Stefan Dercon, 2003. "Growth and Shocks: evidence from rural Ethiopia," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2003-12, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  18. Ravi Kanbur & Tony Venables, 2005. "Introduction: Spatial inequality and development," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 1-2, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Rijkers, Bob & Costa, Rita, 2012. "Gender and rural non-farm entrepreneurship," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6066, The World Bank.
  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. 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.
  4. Dethier, Jean-Jacques & Effenberger, Alexandra, 2011. "Agriculture and development : a brief review of the literature," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5553, The World Bank.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Durevall, Dick & Loening, Josef L. & Ayalew Birru, Yohannes, 2013. "Inflation dynamics and food prices in Ethiopia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 89-106.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Barbier, Edward B., 2012. "Natural capital, ecological scarcity and rural poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6232, The World Bank.
  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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