Abstract

The paper discusses the meaning and measurement of pro-poor growth and also reviews evidence of pro-poor growth (or the lack of it) in a large cross-section of countries and time periods. The emerging story is that many episodes of growth are not pro-poor and also that although economic reforms have had positive effects in those countries that have been steadfast in implementing market reforms, the overall impact on growth has been small for many countries and in most cases not pro-poor. I present a general theory of pro-poor growth that includes ten principles that should be incorporated in all economic reforms that seek to generate pro-poor growth. These principles highlight the importance of understanding the poor, their economic activities, capabilities, constraints that impede their participation in markets and also an appreciation of linkages within sectors and regions. It is argued that pro-poor reforms cannot have the intended impact unless there are significant changes in the institutions of governance. Finally, the principles presented underscore the fact that pro-poor growth policies cannot be sustained without workable partnerships between markets and states in the ever changing and complex processes of social and economic development.

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