VIDEO: David Hulme reflects on Millennium Development Goals and the path ahead beyond 2015. Recorded at Yale University in October 2013. (English only)

What is poverty? How can we understand and measure it? Who lives in poverty and why? What does it mean to be poor?

These are some of the questions in the chapter on poverty. The relationship between poverty and development is a socially constructed one. A historical analysis reveals the ideological, strategic, and political positioning of poverty in the global policy making arena.

I argued that there was an uneasy compromise between the structuralist and liberal views on development. With the wisdom of hindsight, I may have underestimated the emerging synthesis on primacy of tackling poverty.

The future goals are to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce inequality within countries, and provide basic needs to all.

We live in a world where poverty and inequality are ubiquitous. ‘Eradicating’ or ‘alleviating’ poverty involves a diverse range of actors from private, public, and civic institutions. This is particularly evident in debate over the Post-2015 Agenda. Both the High Level Panel and Sustainable Development Goals incorporate growth and poverty eradication in their specifications, with growth envisioned as ‘sustainable’ and ‘inclusive’.

Tackling poverty is greatly advanced from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Extreme poverty ($1.25 per day) is to be eradicated. The basic needs of food, education, health services, sanitation and water are to be accessible ‘to all’ by 2030. The relative poor are now also to benefit, with a target to increase the income of the bottom 40% of earners at least at the rate of growth.

The synthesis goes even deeper. The present draft, over which member states are still negotiating, inequality is to be reduced ‘within and among countries’. The risk is that the goals will be ‘negotiated down’, or provoke some countries to refrain from signing the final document.

Make no mistake, poverty eradication is once again centre stage in development thinking, and inequality is garnering much greater attention.


— Study Guide Theme
Critical Issues
— Study Guide Chapter
Inequality, Poverty in Development Thought


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