This paper analyses a panel dataset on 379 rural households in Bangladesh interviewed in 1987/88 and 2000. Using a 'livelihoods' framework it contrasts the fortunes of ascending households (which escape poverty) and descending households (which fall into poverty). These two dynamics are not mirror images of each other. Escapees overcome structural obstacles by pursuing multiple strategies (crop intensification, agricultural diversification, off-farm activity, irrigation) that permitted them to relatively rapidly accumulate a mix of assets. Descents into poverty were associated with lifecycle changes and crises such as flooding and ill-health. The findings confirm that Bangladesh made great progress in reducing poverty in the 1980s and 1990s.
Drivers of Escape and Descent: Changing Household Fortunesin Rural Bangladesh, PRCPB Working Paper No. 3, Programme for Research on Chronic Poverty in Bangladesh (PRCPB)/ Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, 57 pp.