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Do poverty traps exist ?

  • Kraay, Aart
  • McKenzie, David

This paper reviews the empirical evidence on the existence of poverty traps, understood as self-reinforcing mechanisms through which poor individuals or countries remain poor. Poverty traps have captured the interest of many development policy makers, because poverty traps provide a theoretically coherent explanation for persistent poverty. They also suggest that temporary policy interventions may have long-term effects on poverty. However, a review of the reduced-form empirical evidence suggests that truly stagnant incomes of the sort predicted by standard models of poverty traps are in fact quite rare. Moreover, the empirical evidence regarding several canonical mechanisms underlying models of poverty traps is mixed.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6835.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2014
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6835
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  1. Quah, Danny T, 1997. " Empirics for Growth and Distribution: Stratification, Polarization, and Convergence Clubs," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 27-59, March.
  2. Kraay, Aart & Raddatz, Claudio, 2005. "Poverty traps, aid, and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3631, The World Bank.
  3. repec:cep:stieop:43 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. David McKenzie & Steven Stillman & John Gibson, 2010. "How Important is Selection? Experimental VS. Non‐Experimental Measures of the Income Gains from Migration," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 913-945, 06.
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  9. Abhijit Banerjee & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2010. "The Shape of Temptation: Implications for the Economic Lives of the Poor," NBER Working Papers 15973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Travis J. Lybbert & Christopher B. Barrett & Solomon Desta & D. Layne Coppock, 2004. "Stochastic wealth dynamics and risk management among a poor population," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(498), pages 750-777, October.
  13. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  14. Michelle Adato & Michael Carter & Julian May, 2006. "Exploring poverty traps and social exclusion in South Africa using qualitative and quantitative data," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(2), pages 226-247.
  15. Banerjee, Abhijit & Duflo, Esther & Glennerster, Rachel & Kinnan, Cynthia, 2013. "The miracle of microfinance? Evidence from a randomized evaluation," CEPR Discussion Papers 9437, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Caucutt Elizabeth M & Kumar Krishna B., 2008. "Africa: Is Aid an Answer?," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-48, December.
  17. Robert Lucas & Sari Kerr, 2013. "Intergenerational income immobility in Finland: contrasting roles for parental earnings and family income," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 1057-1094, July.
  18. Antman, Francisca & McKenzie, David J., 2005. "Poverty traps and nonlinear income dynamics with measurement error and individual heterogeneity," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3764, The World Bank.
  19. William Easterly, 2006. "Reliving the 1950s: the big push, poverty traps, and takeoffs in economic development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 289-318, December.
  20. Santos, Paulo & Barrett, Christopher B., 2011. "Persistent poverty and informal credit," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 337-347, November.
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