Relating Severe Poverty and Chronic Poverty
The severely poor are very poor since their consumption is far below the absolute poverty line, and the chronically poor are very poor since their consumption persists for long periods below the absolute poverty line. A combination of chronic poverty and severe poverty (CSP) must represent the very worst instance of poverty. Yet the exercise in this paper of asking simple questions about CSP shows large research gaps. Quantified statements on CSP at the country level can be made for just 14 countries, and at the household level in just six countries. This data suggests a positive correlation between severe poverty and chronic poverty, both at the country level and the household level. Understanding the CSP relationship – whether it is strong, where it arises, what causes it – may improve our explanation of observed cross-country variation in the elasticity between macroeconomic growth and poverty reduction, and why within countries, some households take better advantage of opportunities afforded by macroeconomic growth. Some limited data suggests similarity in socioeconomic characteristics of the severe poor and the chronic poor in terms of location, household size, gender, education and economic sector of work. Of concern is that microlongitudinal datasets drop large proportions of their base year samples, and how this affects our understanding of CSP is not well evaluated. On causal mechanisms, evidence suggests that CSP may be caused by parental CSP (i.e. an intergenerational CSP cycle) and in households not previously poor, CSP may be caused by a morbidity cycle.
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