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Social isolation and its relationship to multidimensional poverty


  • Kim Samuel
  • Sabina Alkire
  • Diego Zavaleta
  • China Mills
  • John Hammock


While the multidimensionality of poverty is well-recognised, one dimension of poverty which has been often overlooked is weak social connectedness. This paper draws on conceptual, participatory and measurement literatures to show that social connectedness appears to be an important missing ingredient of multidimensional poverty analyses, with social isolation being a feature which exacerbates the condition of poor persons. To provide contextual detail as to its impact on persons in marginalized communities, we present qualitative primary data from South Africa and Mozambique and review pertinent studies of the First Nations of Canada and among persons with disability. A policy challenge for social isolation is that it is often seen as stemming from an individuals’ capacity rather than resulting from the broader social context. The closing section outlines areas for policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Kim Samuel & Sabina Alkire & Diego Zavaleta & China Mills & John Hammock, 2018. "Social isolation and its relationship to multidimensional poverty," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(1), pages 83-97, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:46:y:2018:i:1:p:83-97
    DOI: 10.1080/13600818.2017.1311852

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Saeed Solaymani & Negin Vaghefi & Fatimah Kari, 2019. "The Multidimensional Poverty Measure among Malaysian Employee Provident Fund (EPF) Retirees," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 14(5), pages 1353-1371, November.
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    6. Haenssgen, Marco J. & Charoenboon, Nutcha & Zanello, Giacomo, 2021. "You’ve got a friend in me: How social networks and mobile phones facilitate healthcare access among marginalised groups in rural Thailand and Lao PDR," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).

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