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The relationship between growth and poverty lies at the heart of development economics. While many see aggregate growth as both necessary and sufficient for reducing poverty, and consequently focus their efforts on achieving the desired macroeconomic outcomes, others stress that the benefits from growth may not be evenly spread. In fact critics of globalization often point out that growth of the macroeconomy may well have an adverse effect on the most vulnerable members of society. Thus the distributional impact of growth, as well as its level, needs to be taken into account when considering the consequences for poverty.
The importance of this topic, and the continuing controversies surrounding it, prompted UNU/WIDER to organize a major academic conference on growth and poverty in May 2001. Its purpose was to review current thinking on the issue, to stimulate fresh research, and to allow researchers from various backgrounds to exchange ideas on future policy directions.
Perspectives on Growth and Poverty contains an important selection of the conference papers. They deal with institutional and policy questions, as well as sectoral issues and individual country experiences that illustrate the broad range of objectives and topics. One set of conclusions to emerge is that initial conditions, institutions, specific country structures, and time horizons all play a significant role.
The country- and context-specific nature of these factors point to the need for creative national solutions to the problem of poverty. This in turn requires an informed policy debate within countries: one which may hopefully lead to a consensus between different interest groups or at least help to clarify the basis of opposing views. The aim of this volume is to stimulate and enhance this debate.
"Perspectives on growth and poverty is a timely publication from the World Institute for Development Economics Research. Based on the results of a major conference on poverty and growth held in Helsinki in 2001, the book looks at the role of institutions, how to improve resource flows to poor groups, how to design effective incentive structures for poverty reduction, and what role growth plays in inequality and poverty reduction. The case studies provide interesting examples of what the new thinking has achieved in practice and highlight the need for further investigation.
The turn of the millennium saw much activity related to establishing monitorable global benchmarks for tackling poverty. The donor community, including the multilateral agencies of the UN, encouraged developing countries, especially low-income ones to put poverty reduction on top of their development agendas. WIDER has contributed to this challenge by facilitating broad based research drawing practitioners world wide, including from low-income countries. Perspectives on growth and poverty is a good example of WIDER's engagement.
I recommend the book to academics and other practitioners for its probing and insightful analysis of poverty and growth issues and for suggestions on how to restructure the road map in order to ensure that the globally adopted poverty reduction targets are achieved."
"In recent years both the understanding of growth-poverty relationships and development policies have been damaged by the false claim that 'growth is good for the poor'. This important, new book adds weight to the argument that growth-poverty relationships cannot be turned into a simplistic, newspaper headline a la Dollar and Kraay. It explores the complexities of country-specific growth-poverty links and examines the policy implications. This book deserves a wide readership."
"Perspectives on Growth and Poverty deals with two subjects which have attracted treatments that score high on relevance or on rigour: the present volume offers a collection of essays which, exceptionally, score high with respect to both attributes."