1st Edition

Understanding Global Poverty
Causes, Capabilities and Human Development

ISBN 9781138230774
Published September 15, 2017 by Routledge
304 Pages

USD $49.95

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Book Description

Understanding Global Poverty introduces students to the study and analysis of poverty, helping them to understand why it is pervasive across human societies, and how it can be reduced through proven policy solutions. Using the capabilities and human development approach, the book foregrounds the human aspects of poverty, keeping the voices, experiences and needs of the world’s poor in the centre of the analysis.

Drawing on decades of teaching, research and fieldwork, this interdisciplinary volume is unique in its rigorous application of the multiple disciplines of anthropology, sociology, political science, public health and economics to the phenomenon of global poverty. Starting with definitions and measurement, the book goes on to explore causes of poverty and policy responses, aiming to give a realistic account of what poverty reduction programmes actually look like. Finally, the book draws together the ethics of why we should work to reduce poverty and what actions readers themselves can take to reduce poverty.

This book is an accessible and engaging introduction to the key issues surrounding poverty, with key questions, case studies, discussion questions and further reading suggestions to support learning. Perfect as an introductory textbook for postgraduates and upper level undergraduates, Understanding Global Poverty will also be a valuable resource to policy makers and development practitioners looking for a comprehensive guide to the theoretical frameworks of poverty through the lens of human development.

Table of Contents



List of maps

Chapter 1: Building a Framework for Understanding Poverty Benjamin Curtis and Serena Cosgrove

Chapter 2: Development and its Debates Benjamin Curtis and Serena Cosgrove

Chapter 3: Multidimensional Poverty Measurements Benjamin Curtis

Chapter 4: Health and Poverty Paula E. Brentlinger

Chapter 5: Geographical and Spatial Poverty Benjamin Curtis

Chapter 6: Gender and Poverty Serena Cosgrove

Chapter 7: State Institutions, Governance, and Poverty Benjamin Curtis

Chapter 8: Conflict and Poverty Serena Cosgrove

Chapter 9: Education as Poverty Reduction Benjamin Curtis

Chapter 10: The Environment and Poverty Reduction Benjamin Curtis

Chapter 11: Financial Services for the Poor Serena Cosgrove

Conclusion: Ethics and Action: What Should You Do about Global Poverty? Benjamin Curtis and Serena Cosgrove

List of contributors



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Serena Cosgrove is an Assistant Professor of International Studies at Seattle University, USA.

Benjamin Curtis is a Senior Advisor at The Behavioural Insights Team, UK.


"Benjamin Curtis and Serena Cosgrove have produced a compelling and, at times, moving guide that comprehensively rehearses the major challenges of poverty facing our unequal world, addressing these both conceptually and with empirical evidence and examples. Their book requires that we all pay careful attention to lives lacking human dignity and access to a threshold of basic human capabilities for well-being and agency, and to who is responsible for the current deplorable state of affairs globally in which too many people – men, women and children - are deprived unnecessarily and avoidably of human freedoms. The book should be required reading for practitioners and policy makers involved in development, as well as scholars working in the field of development, all grappling with the formidable – and yet feasible- challenge of multi-dimensional poverty and its significant reduction.  As the authors make clear, this is a matter of ethics and global justice - a moral imperative towards which each of us should strive individually and in solidarity with others across levels of communities and governance structures.  As the authors explain, people reading this book should aspire to think more deeply about both their obligations to reduce poverty and the actions they can take to that end."  Melanie Walker, National Research Foundation Chair and Director of the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development at University of the Free State, South Africa