Chapter 22

The Idea of Antipoverty Policy

Martin Ravallion    Department of Economics, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA

Abstract

How did we come to think that eliminating poverty is a legitimate goal for public policy? What policies emerged in the hope of attaining that goal? The last 200 years have witnessed a dramatic change in thinking about poverty. Mainstream economic thinking in the eighteenth century held that poverty was necessary and even desirable for a country's economic success. Today, poverty is more often viewed as a constraint on that success. In short, poverty switched from being seen as a social good to a social bad. This change in thinking, and the accompanying progress in knowledge, has greatly influenced public ...

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