Drawing on longitudinal Q-Squared data from six research sites across mainland Tanzania, this paper examines how and why people experienced upward socio-economic mobility, and in some cases poverty escape, in a context where this has been limited.
Using a locally relevant but comparable well-being classification system, we find that poverty is entrenched across all research sites. The overwhelming majority of households ranked in this study – derived from a representative sample in each site from the 2007 HBS – were identified by representatives in their community as being poor. Further, in line with other analyses, we find that there has been little socioeconomic mobility across these sites over the past decade, and stubborn levels of poverty despite sustained economic growth nationally.
Through systematic analysis of the qualitative data set, we find that agriculture is a key factor in supporting upward mobility. But critically, we find that it is non-farm businesses, the accumulation of physical assets (such as land and housing), salaried employment and favourable marriage - some of which agriculture plays a role in supporting - which are most effective at moving people out of poverty. When it comes to moving beyond vulnerability, these findings hold. Those that manage to move beyond vulnerability often have multiple sources of income and own a number of valuable physical assets.
A range of broad policy conclusions are made. These include that agricultural development should remain a priority; rural industrialisation requires greater attention; asset accumulation needs to be promoted (and those assets need to be protected); access to credit, and business development, needs to be supported; and that secondary and vocational training opportunities need to be made accessible to young people from poorer households.
Higgins, K. Escaping poverty in Tanzania: what can we learn from cases of success? CPRC Working Paper 204. (2011) 34 pp. ISBN 978-1-906433-99-4