The truly pernicious aspect of poverty is how difficult it is to escape. We are well aware of how labourers use modest incomes to break out of the cycle of poverty by paying for their children’s higher education or buying a home. The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives foundation has a similar but even more ambitious goal of using Dh1 billion to help 130 million people escape poverty and illness.
In that sense, recognition of Prof Deaton’s work also highlights that of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, whose pioneering work on the informal economy suggested ways in which slum dwellings or even street trader sites are assets that ought to be used by the poor to break out of the cycle of poverty. Poverty might be pernicious and self-sustaining, but part of the answer to it will always be about making sure we are looking at the problem from the right perspective.
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