How to Define Poverty

Consequently, and as Keen (1992) contends, given that development, theory embraces poverty alleviation strategies, one may assume that development policies and programmes are inherently focused upon poverty reduction/elimination.
While the above assertion is valid and development policies, as does development theory, embrace poverty alleviation strategies, the fact remains that they are, more often than not, characterized by failure. The failure of development policies to successfully eradicate, or reduce poverty, is an immediate outcome of inaccurate definitions of poverty, a vague understanding of its causal factors, and a tendency to adopt prescribed development policies, as opposed to ones which have been specifically designed to address the type, cause and consequence of poverty in a specific society/nation. Through an analysis of the meaning of poverty, it variant causes and consequences, and the extent to which type and cause need inform poverty alleviation and development strategies if they are to successfully accomplish the objectives of development and poverty alleviation, the stated hypothesis will be investigated.
Poverty is popularly understood as e…
Until recently, the World Bank interpreted poverty in a similar manner, defining it as the "deprivation of income" (Mosley and Booth, 2003, p. 5). Realizing, however, that this definition was erroneous insofar as it imposed unjustifiable limitations on the theoretical conceptualizations of the referenced phenomenon, leading to the evolution of limited and delimiting development and poverty eradication policies, the World Bank undertook the revision of the mentioned definition. Rather than define poverty in economic terms alone, the World Bank adopted a more expansive definition of poverty as the "pronounced deprivation of well-being" (Mosley and Booth, 2003, p. 5). This definition does overcome some f the conceptual constraints imposed upon the phenomenon by the earlier definition but, as Sen (1976. 1984. 1985. 1999) has repeatedly argued, poverty is a fluid concept, most accurately defined in terms of its causal factors. Certainly, it is deprivation but it is countless forms of deprivation, be it social, economic, political or geographic. It is not incorrect to define it as "deprivation," but it is hardly correct to leave it at that. In other words, and as Sen (1984. 1985) maintains, poverty is the absence of choice, be it on the political, economic or social levels.

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