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Recurrent Shocks, Poverty Traps, and the Degradationof the Social Capital Base of Pastoralism: A Case Study from Southern Ethiopia


  • Wassie Berhanu
  • Bichaka Fayissa


The long-term effects of shocks are examined in the context of a traditional pastoral community. The impacts are empirically examined in connection with the micro-level poverty trap hypothesis and the associated minimum poverty threshold estimates reported in previous studies. We argue that these estimates cannot be taken as definitive and the core explanations behind them are incongruent with the institutional realities of the pastoral community for which they are reported. The reality is that shocks have implied long-term community-wide deprivation with a lasting effect of deterioration in the indigenous capacity to cushion those who slide into permanent destitution. This is evident in the empirically identified increasing loss of confidence in the indigenous social support structures. The findings rather highlight the need for policy interventions to focus on system level community-wide development issues rather than the commonly emphasized individual targeting implied by such exercises as asset-based poverty threshold estimates.

Suggested Citation

  • Wassie Berhanu & Bichaka Fayissa, 2009. "Recurrent Shocks, Poverty Traps, and the Degradationof the Social Capital Base of Pastoralism: A Case Study from Southern Ethiopia," Working Papers 200903, Middle Tennessee State University, Department of Economics and Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:mts:wpaper:200903

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    More about this item


    Shocks; Poverty Trap; Pastoralism; Social Capital; Ethiopia;

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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