Overview

The book’s 700 pages span three parts:

Part 1 traces out the history of thought from mercantilist views on the inevitability of poverty through two main stages of “poverty enlightenment,” out of which poverty came to be seen as a social bad capable of being greatly reduced and even eliminated.

Part 2 looks more closely at measurement and methods. The key concepts are explained in an intuitive way, including the various (often ongoing) debates about how best to assess well-being and measure poverty and inequality. Some topics of a more technical nature that can help in poverty analysis (including in evaluating policies) are also covered.

Part 3 turns to the main policy debates about how best to fight poverty. After reviewing what we know about the dimensions of poverty and inequality in the world today, readers learn about the theories and evidence concerning the distribution of the benefits from economic growth and the sources of that growth. The discussion then turns to the main economy-wide and sectoral policies, as well as the interventions that are targeted directly at poor people.

The final chapter draws together lessons from all three parts on the challenges to be faced if poverty is finally to be eliminated and rising inequality is to be avoided.

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