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Analyzing Multidimensional Well-Being by Satya R. Chakravarty

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Chapter 6Vulnerability to Poverty: A Multidimensional Evaluation

6.1 Introduction

Vulnerability is concerned with security risks. We can broadly define it in terms of a system's exposure and capacity to deal adequately with distress. For instance, a situation of economic vulnerability arises when a country faces an economic shock. Similarly, an ecosystem's exposure to climatic shocks may be regarded as a case of environmental vulnerability. A farmer with a low income from agriculture may be nonpoor currently. But since his agricultural output depends on the weather conditions, he may become poor in the future if the weather badly affects production. In the dimension of health, vulnerability may be regarded as a situation where a person with a reasonably good health condition currently will undergo an incident of health problem so that he becomes health-poor over time. (See Dercon and Krishnan, 2000, for an illustration). A person with a contractual nature of employment may be vulnerable to unemployment in the future (see, for example, Basu and Nolen, 2005).

From the aforementioned illustrations, it is clear that the notion of vulnerability is forward-looking. In the study of vulnerability, our concern should be not only with current conditions, such as income and health status, but also with the risks a person faces and his ability to avert, bring down, and conquer these. On the other hand, in the standard poverty analysis, both intertemporal and cross section, the analysis ...

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