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This chapter considers how world poverty might be abolished in the new millennium. Rapid technological change and globalisation have transformed the world economy at an unprecedented pace, but the benefits are being enjoyed by the rich and strong rather than the weak and poor. The process of global ‘trickle-down’ has failed to close the gap between wealthy and poor countries, while inequalities within countries also continue to widen. The chapter discusses issues relating to the meaning and measurement of poverty and shows how the 1995 World Summit on Social Development, which incorporates overall and absolute definitions of poverty as a way to bridge the ‘First’ and ‘Third’ Worlds, has been a significant breakthrough in this context. It argues that there is an urgent need for international social policies involving investment in jobs and the reorganisation of the public and private sectors.

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This chapter presents a general account of trends in development from the 1960s, when poverty was placed at the forefront of international concern. The continued emphasis on economic growth by the Bretton Woods institutions has attracted increasingly critical attention. The partial shift of attention to ‘social exclusion’ has widened the understanding of the causes of poverty but has not led to the mobilisation of effective action on the part of the international agencies or the most powerful states. It is the phenomenon of ‘social polarisation’ that is attracting too little interest, and yet is fuelling increasingly difficult and even dangerous, as well as contentious, social conditions.

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This chapter examines the influential role of the World Bank over the last 50 years in shaping approaches to poverty, and concludes that a major problem has been its avoidance of the obligation to adopt a core scientific measure of the phenomenon to facilitate comparison and the identification of the population groups who experience poverty in the worst forms. Another, related, problem has been avoidance of the obligation, accepted at the 1995 Copenhagen World Summit on Social Development, to monitor existing and newly introduced policies and measure their exact effects on the extent and severity of poverty. This applies to the components of the Bank’s anti-poverty policies during recent decades. Structural action by the key institutional players – the transnational corporations and the governments of the most powerful nations, such as the G8 – working collaboratively as well as within existing and newly introduced international law, is an unknown factor.

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The chapter discusses the pressing need for greater investment in social security schemes internationally and in particular for children. It sets out the consequences of poverty and deprivation for children and the importance and potential of using children’s rights as a framework for measurement, analysis and policy design. It highlights the responsibilities of international actors to resource social security, and details how a tax on currency transfers could be harnessed to provide an international child benefit.

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This chapter focuses on the evolution of social policy and its corresponding institutions and makes a powerful plea for human rights-based approaches to addressing ageism and the structured dependency still experienced by many older people around the world. It argues that by the late 20th century, older people were perceived and treated, according to accumulating research evidence, as more dependent than they really were or needed to be, and that this had been fostered by the emerging institutions of retirement, income maintenance and residential and domiciliary care. Forms of discrimination against older people had become, or continued to be, as deep as forms of discrimination against women and minority ethnic groups. The discussion argues that human rights-based approaches offer a framework of rigorous analysis and a sound basis for anti-discriminatory work.

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New policies to defeat an old enemy

World poverty is an important book offering fresh insights into how to tackle poverty worldwide. With contributions from leading scholars in the field both internationally and in the UK, the book asks whether existing international and national policies are likely to succeed in reducing poverty across the world. It concludes that they are not and that a radically different international strategy is needed.

This book is a companion volume to Breadline Europe: The measurement of poverty (The Policy Press, 2001). The focus of World poverty is on anti-poverty policies rather than the scale, causes and measurement of poverty. A wide range of countries is discussed including countries such as China and India, which have rarely been covered elsewhere.

The interests of the industrialised and developing world are given equal attention and are analysed together. Policies intended to operate at different levels - international, regional, national and sub-national - ranging from the policies of international agencies like the UN and the World Bank through to national governments, groups of governments and local and city authorities - are examined. Key aspects of social policy, like ‘targeting’ and means-testing, de-regulation and privatisation, are considered in detail.

World poverty will become a definitive point of reference for anyone working, studying or researching in the poverty field.

Series Editor: David Gordon, Director, Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research.

Poverty, inequality and social exclusion remain the most fundamental problems that humanity faces in the 21st century. This exciting series, published in association with the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at the University of Bristol, aims to make cutting-edge poverty related research more widely available.

For other titles in this series, please follow the series link from the main catalogue page.

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This book offers insights into how to tackle poverty worldwide. With contributions from scholars in the field, both internationally and in the UK, it asks whether existing international and national policies are likely to succeed in reducing poverty across the world. The book concludes that they are not, and that a radically different international strategy is needed. The book is a companion volume to Breadline Europe: The measurement of poverty (The Policy Press, 2001). The focus of World poverty is on anti-poverty policies rather than the scale, causes, and measurement of poverty. A wide range of countries is discussed, including countries such as China and India, which have rarely been covered elsewhere. The interests of the industrialised and developing world are given equal attention and are analysed together. Policies intended to operate at different levels – international, regional, national, and sub-national – ranging from the policies of international agencies such as the United Nations and the World Bank, through to national governments, groups of governments, and local and city authorities, are examined. Key aspects of social policy, such as ‘targeting’ and means-testing, de-regulation and privatisation, are considered in detail.

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This book offers insights into how to tackle poverty worldwide. With contributions from scholars in the field, both internationally and in the UK, it asks whether existing international and national policies are likely to succeed in reducing poverty across the world. The book concludes that they are not, and that a radically different international strategy is needed. The book is a companion volume to Breadline Europe: The measurement of poverty (The Policy Press, 2001). The focus of World poverty is on anti-poverty policies rather than the scale, causes, and measurement of poverty. A wide range of countries is discussed, including countries such as China and India, which have rarely been covered elsewhere. The interests of the industrialised and developing world are given equal attention and are analysed together. Policies intended to operate at different levels – international, regional, national, and sub-national – ranging from the policies of international agencies such as the United Nations and the World Bank, through to national governments, groups of governments, and local and city authorities, are examined. Key aspects of social policy, such as ‘targeting’ and means-testing, de-regulation and privatisation, are considered in detail.

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This book offers insights into how to tackle poverty worldwide. With contributions from scholars in the field, both internationally and in the UK, it asks whether existing international and national policies are likely to succeed in reducing poverty across the world. The book concludes that they are not, and that a radically different international strategy is needed. The book is a companion volume to Breadline Europe: The measurement of poverty (The Policy Press, 2001). The focus of World poverty is on anti-poverty policies rather than the scale, causes, and measurement of poverty. A wide range of countries is discussed, including countries such as China and India, which have rarely been covered elsewhere. The interests of the industrialised and developing world are given equal attention and are analysed together. Policies intended to operate at different levels – international, regional, national, and sub-national – ranging from the policies of international agencies such as the United Nations and the World Bank, through to national governments, groups of governments, and local and city authorities, are examined. Key aspects of social policy, such as ‘targeting’ and means-testing, de-regulation and privatisation, are considered in detail.

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This book has a single purpose: to provide the best scientific and international basis for the analysis and reduction of poverty. If considered to be even partly successful, it will have immense practical value. Since 1990, the World Bank and most of the other international agencies, like an increasing number of governments, including that of the UK, have emphatically committed themselves to the eradication of poverty1. But the basis of all their work badly needs overhaul and concerted verification.

In serving this purpose the book has a special feature. It demonstrates that there is far more important research into the problem of poverty going on in many countries of Europe than the international agencies and national governments admit or even realise. Knowledge of the striking advances that have been made deserves to be spread among other countries, within as well as outside Europe. This is particularly true of the countries of Eastern Europe, including the westernmost territories of the former Soviet Union.

The origins of this book lie in collaborative European professional action in the mid-1990s. Initially, more than 70 leading social scientists from 14 European countries put their signatures to a public statement calling for immediate steps to be taken to improve the accepted meanings, measurement and explanation of poverty and pave the way for more effective policies (the introductory statement by the European Social Scientists – ‘An international approach to the measurement and explanation of poverty: statement by European Social Scientists’ – can be found at the end of this chapter).

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