Learning Change

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Posts Tagged ‘poverty

Poverty, Disease, and the Ecology of Complex Systems

Understanding why some human populations remain persistently poor remains a significant challenge for both the social and natural sciences. The extremely poor are generally reliant on their immediate natural resource base for subsistence and suffer high rates of mortality due to parasitic and infectious diseases. Economists have developed a range of models to explain persistent poverty, often characterized as poverty traps, but these rarely account for complex biophysical processes. In this Essay, we argue that by coupling insights from ecology and economics, we can begin to model and understand the complex dynamics that underlie the generation and maintenance of poverty traps, which can then be used to inform analyses and possible intervention policies. To illustrate the utility of this approach, we present a simple coupled model of infectious diseases and economic growth, where poverty traps emerge from nonlinear relationships determined by the number of pathogens in the system. These nonlinearities are comparable to those often incorporated into poverty trap models in the economics literature, but, importantly, here the mechanism is anchored in core ecological principles. Coupled models of this sort could be usefully developed in many economically important biophysical systems—such as agriculture, fisheries, nutrition, and land use change—to serve as foundations for deeper explorations of how fundamental ecological processes influence structural poverty and economic development.

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Written by learningchange

21/04/2014 at 11:37

On the Children Misery Gap

Harvard academic Robert Putnam – ‘America is moving toward a caste society’ -  Basically all parts of American society are failing these kids. Poor kids in America now, compared to 30 years ago, have been ignored and isolated by every major social institution. They’re no longer as connected to their family.  They’re no longer as connected to the schools. They’re no longer as connected to the community institutions, the churches, the Scouts. They have fewer mentors and friends. You can see the number of people they say that they trust and they can talk to is declining. It’s not that this is an adolescent epidemic of paranoia. If you talk to these kids it’s perfectly clear that it would be nuts for them to say that you could trust other people because everybody in their lives has failed them. There used to be a whole dense civil society who worried about all the kids in the neighbourhoodMost parts of that fabric have disappeared over the last 20 years. So if a chick falls from a nest in a working-class neighbourhood it used to be there was a net there to catch them. Now if a chick falls out of the nest — real people in real neighbourhoods that we’ve talked to — there is just nothing down there to catch the kids except gangs. I’m not talking about just ethnic minorities; I’m talking about white kids.

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Written by learningchange

12/04/2014 at 12:34

Posted in Children, Misery, Poverty

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The Human Rights Approach to Social Protection

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One pressing omission to date is the complete absence from the discussion of the human rights implications and outcomes of social protection programmes. This is a significant analytical gap that must be filled. Considering the extensive human rights obligations which States possess by virtue of the multitude of international human rights treaties, and given that all UN agencies have committed to mainstreaming human rights throughout the UN system, the lack of a systematic discussion of social protection from a human rights perspective is problematic. States are subject to legally-binding domestic and international obligations to ensure that human rights guide the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all public policies, and these obligations must be applied to social protection programmes.

Accordingly, for the past four years the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights (the Special Rapporteur), Magdalena Sepúlveda, has focussed her work on developing the human rights framework for social protection.

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Read also: Human rights to participation of people living in poverty

Human rights to access justice for persons living in poverty

Ways in which States and social forces penalize those living in poverty

Written by learningchange

28/06/2013 at 20:10

Poor kids help at home but hide at school, or the dynamics of Exclusion

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Children from poor families cope by hiding their situation from teachers and peers. The study sheds light on the demanding circumstances under which poor children interact with other children – and adults. At home a poor child will tend to take more responsibility in an attempt to tackle and mitigate the family’s economic situation. They don’t nag their parents for money and they alert them well ahead of time if they will need money for something. Another coping strategy these children use is to be withdrawn in social situations. The children told the researcher that not having money for bus fare or trendy brands of clothes is less of a concern than the impact of their poverty on their relationships with other kids. The problem is not that poor children are bullied, excluded or stigmatized because of their situation – in fact, this does not happen that all that often. But problems arise because poor children often exclude themselves socially to conceal their situation. Their peers might then see them as being boring or weird. The link between humiliation and poverty doesn’t seem to be obvious to anyone except poor children themselves. The invisible child.

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Written by learningchange

20/04/2013 at 11:04

Posted in Children, Poverty

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Empowering Villagers by showing them the Beauty of their Own Voice

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One of the overarching issues that the village faces is a sense of inferiority vis-à-vis the city. The language that many of them use to describe themselves and their village in comparison to the city and city dwellers illustrates a certain deference, calling themselves “small,” and city people “big” and “important.” This image is perpetuated by the media, which is based in and tends to focus on urban areas. In addition, children from lower castes and poorer families tend to be cognizant of their relative social position. Student participation and performance clearly reflects local social hierarchies, as those from high caste and relatively wealthy families are much more active in class and perform better on the assessments we give them. Completely untangling cause and effect is not possible, but these social institutions are clearly having a corrosive effect on these children’s performance. This feeling of lowliness then translates into a feeling of hopelessness and fatalism, in which the children have low expectations and aspirations.

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Written by learningchange

23/01/2013 at 15:10

Brazil’s Poverty and Racial Higher Education Affirmative-Action Quotas

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There are only two explanations for the grossly disproportionate student bodies in the United States and Brazil. (1) Black students in the United States and Brazil are inferior, they are not working as hard, or they are not as naturally gifted as white students. Or, (2) the disproportionately white student bodies are a result of a disproportionate amount of privilege and educational opportunities for white students.

With the flowering of affirmative action to equalize opportunity, Brazilian lawmakers seem to believe the latter explanation. With affirmative action seemingly on its deathbed, Americans seem to believe the former, racist explanation.

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Read also: Another Nail in Affirmative Action’s Coffin

Written by learningchange

12/11/2012 at 12:17

Brazil – racial and income Affirmative Action at Federal Universities

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The law which forces Brazilian federal universities to leave 50% of higher education seats to students from government schools and minorities such as blacks and indigenous became effective on Monday. Affirmative action or positive discrimination means public school students have access to half of the places at federal universities (funded by the government) several of which in international ratings are considered among the country’s best academic centres, ahead of private institutions.

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Written by learningchange

16/10/2012 at 07:45

Parental job loss and youth’s education

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We aim to understand why blacks are significantly less likely than whites to perpetuate their middle class status across generations.  We find that parental job loss is associated with a lesser likelihood of obtaining any post-secondary education for all offspring, but that the association for blacks is almost three times as strong. A substantial share of the differential impact of job loss on black and white middle class youth is explained by race differences in household wealth, long-run measures of family income, and, especially, parental experience of long-term unemployment.

Conclusions. These findings highlight the fragile economic foundation of the black middle-class and suggest that intergenerational persistence of class status in this population may be highly dependent on the avoidance of common economic shocks.

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Written by learningchange

03/10/2012 at 10:55

Posted in Education, Poverty

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Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions

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Incisive grassroots account of the new global revolutions by acclaimed BBC journalist.

The world is facing a wave of uprisings, protests and revolutions: Arab dictators swept away, public spaces occupied, slum-dwellers in revolt, cyberspace buzzing with utopian dreams. Events we were told were consigned to history—democratic revolt and social revolution—are being lived by millions of people.

In this compelling new book, Paul Mason explores the causes and consequences of this great unrest. From Cairo to Athens, Wall Street and Westminster to Manila, Mason goes in search of the changes in society, technology and human behavior that have propelled a generation onto the streets in search of social justice. In a narrative that blends historical insight with first-person reportage, Mason shines a light on these new forms of activism, from the vast, agile networks of cyberprotest to the culture wars and tent camps of the #occupy movement. The events, says Mason, reflect the expanding power of the individual and call for new political alternatives to elite rule and global poverty.

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Written by learningchange

18/09/2012 at 12:28

Coping with Complexity: child and adult poverty

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Listening to people talk about their experience of poverty, it is clear that poverty is complex and multi-dimensional. Poverty is more than simply a lack of income. It is the stress caused by the inability to make ends meet, social isolation, and the fatalism and lack of time that prevent political engagement. It is the associated material deprivation, poor housing and neighbourhood. Poverty is a product of multiple causes and can have multifarious, interconnected short- and long-term negative consequences that make life difficult to cope with. Such complexity is easily overlooked and frustrates the best intentions of policymakers who are often tempted to tackle single causes and specific outcomes.

Coping with Complexity identifies fundamental problems with a government strategy that has failed to confront the various interlinked causes and consequences of poverty. A tendency to tackle single causes and specific outcomes has generated poorly targeted and ineffectual policies, which over-emphasise employment as the principal antidote to poverty.

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Written by learningchange

08/05/2012 at 16:16

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