17 Oct 23 | News

The Escape from Poverty Breaking the Vicious Cycles Perpetuating Disadvantage

A book by Olivier De Schutter, Hugh Frazer, Anne-Catherine Guio and Eric Marlier

© Bristol University Press

The vicious cycles that perpetuate poverty can be broken

Globally, about 800 million children are subsisting below a poverty line of US$3.20 a day and one billion children are experiencing multidimensional poverty, with deprivations in education, health, housing, nutrition, sanitation and/or water. This is unacceptable. Why, in a world of plenty, are we failing to eradicate poverty? Given the damage that poverty does to people’s lives, to social cohesion, to the economy and to environmental sustainability, there is no objective more urgent or worth pursuing.

The Escape from Poverty, a new book by Olivier De Schutter, Hugh Frazer, Anne-Catherine Guio and Eric Marlier, examines the vicious cycles that perpetuate poverty across generations and what could be done to eradicate it.

The book exposes the powerful factors obstructing change, including:
• the failure of governments to invest in children by providing sufficient support for households facing poverty; and
• the fallacious tendency to blame poverty on ‘dysfunctional’ families.

It debunks the myths and excuses impeding action, including:
• beliefs concerning ‘merit’ and ‘incentives’;
• the self-interest of and exploitation by those who control excessive wealth and resources; and
• the failure to assess the costs to society of poverty and inequalities (e.g. child poverty costs over $1 trillion/year in the US).

With a view to breaking the cycles of poverty, the authors identify key priorities for action including:
• increasing resources to combat poverty;
• strengthening social protection and protecting basic income security;
• ensuring effective access for children to food, housing, childcare, education, leisure, healthcare and other key services; and
• moving from an extractive and exclusive economy to a regenerative and inclusive economy.

The authors offer crucial guidance to policy makers and identify successful anti-poverty strategies including the ‘Bolsa Familia’ in Brazil, the ‘Social Cash Transfer Pilot Programme’ in Ethiopia, the European Union’s ‘European Child Guarantee’, the ‘Midday Meal Programme’ in India and the ‘HighScope Perry Preschool’ programme in the US.

This book is dedicated to the memory of Tony Atkinson and Fintan Farrell, who, throughout their lives, actively and relentlessly fought against poverty and inequality and for social justice across Europe and around the world.

About the authors:
Olivier De Schutter is Professor at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium and the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.
Hugh Frazer is Adjunct Professor at Maynooth University, Ireland, a former Director of the Irish Government’s Combat Poverty Agency and an expert on child poverty and European Union (EU) social policy.
Anne-Catherine Guio is Senior Researcher at the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) and ensured the scientific coordination of the first two EU’s Feasibility Studies for a ‘European Child Guarantee’.
Eric Marlier is International Scientific Coordinator at the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) and manages the 38-country ‘European Social Policy Analysis Network’ funded by the EU.

See short article: Transforming Society ~ Ending child poverty is vital for a sustainable future


“This book provides various pathways towards ‘Good Living’ (Buen Vivir), as an alternative to development: a call to move beyond the fetishism of progress, which, far from alleviating poverty and slowing down the destruction of Nature, steadily increases them both.” (Alberto Acosta, Former President of the Constituent Assembly of Ecuador [2007-2008])

“This book is an informed and impassioned call to action to end (monetary) poverty and its concatenation of effects on children’s lives. It distils the vast and dispersed literature on inter-generational perpetuation of poverty accurately in a readable and concise fashion – which itself is no minor feat. Its analysis is a springboard to articulate actions that would uproot poverty feasibly and permanently. The authors’ intellectual rigour and ethical energy permeates the narrative, making this a book to be read seriously and to be used.” (Sabina Alkire, Professor, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, University of Oxford, United Kingdom)

“In this book a talented group of researchers give us direction on how to build on the world progress in reducing extreme poverty and break the circle of poverty. As so clearly presented in this book, with excellent academic basis, this is the ultimate goal in advancing the lives of so many children and families around the world.” (Asher Ben-Arieh, Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)

“A cry for action on child poverty from four distinguished scholars, drawing on worldwide evidence to back their case and proposing cogent policy remedies within the grasp of national governments. The most important issue of our time. Act.” (Jonathan Bradshaw, Emeritus Professor, University of York, United Kingdom)

“The time to consign mass poverty to the dustbin of history is long overdue. This requires freeing children from the chains that bound their parents. Here is an essential guide to this escape.” (Jean Drèze, Honorary Professor, Delhi School of Economics, India)

“This book vividly traces the pathways through which poverty transmits across generations, generating deep patterns of intergenerational disadvantage. It demonstrates the critical role of social rights and programmes giving effect to these rights in disrupting these patterns and improving outcomes for future generations. It is essential reading for all who are interested in the role of law and policy in improving the life chances of those living in poverty, particularly children and generations still to come.” (Sandra Liebenberg, Distinguished Professor and HF Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa)

“A must-read for anyone concerned about the persistence of poverty, this seminal book argues that to break the intergenerational perpetuation of poverty, it is necessary to intervene early on, addressing the vicious circles that constrain poor children’s life chances.” (Chiara Saraceno, Honorary Fellow, Collegio Carlo Alberto, Italy)

“This book’s solutions are actionable and holistic thanks to a human-rights framework and deep respect for knowledge that is forged by lived experience of poverty.” (Diana Skelton, National Coordination Team at All Together in Dignity, ATD Fourth World, United Kingdom)
17 Oct 2023 - Policy Press - 9781447370604 - Hardback - 192 - £45.00