Literature review: poverty, social analysis and the political economy of Tonga (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1010)

Abstract

Query

Undertake a review of recent literature on poverty, social analysis and the political economy of Tonga. This literature review would consist of a synthesis of findings under each topic, summarising research results and, where appropriate, providing brief synopses of reports directly relevant to these topics. GSDRC is also asked to identify academic institutions or individuals who are undertaking research on Tongan issues on a regular/ongoing basis. Include research from 2010 onwards.

Summary

This rapid review examines evidence on poverty, social and political economy analysis published since 2010. The majority of the literature found through this review has been published by regional and international organisations, donors, and the Tongan government. There is substantial policy and practitioner literature that examines the Pacific as a region, or small island states as a particular group. Anthropologist Besnier (2013, p.xviii) warns that much of this research is conducted by ‘fly-in-fly-out’ experts with a ‘minimal’ understanding of the local context. Tonga is an upper-middle-income country (UMIC), without absolute poverty, but with severe environmental and economic vulnerabilities – therefore the literature tends to focus more on economic and environmental issues than poverty per se.

There is not a great deal of academic work published on individual Pacific island countries – among other reasons, it is difficult to find interest in publishing academic articles in mainstream journals for small countries. There are a few select areas – such as remittances – that are well researched in both academia and practitioner literature. There is also a body of anthropological literature that focuses on Tonga. There are some research institutes and academics that have a strong Pacific focus. A list of key sources of information on Tonga is provided in the appendices.

Key points that emerge from this rapid review include statistics on poverty and demographics, political economy issues and key challenges for Tonga and development actors.

Citation

Herbert, S. Literature review: poverty, social analysis and the political economy of Tonga (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1010). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 19 pp.

Literature review: poverty, social analysis and the political economy of Tonga (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1010)

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