Chronic or persistent poverty is an institutional problem. The institutional landscape is characterised by ongoing (discursive) struggles in multiple local arenas, where people's entitlements are, or are not sustained. This perspective implies that attacking poverty requires institutional change. In between the optimistic efficiency view of spontaneous institutional change and the rather pessimistic argument of non-optimal path dependency, we believe that both external shocks and institutional entrepreneurship are able to open windows of opportunity that can induce beneficial institutional change, so as to increase the size of the cake, to improve the slicing of the cake and to increase participation in political arenas where the rules of the game(s) are negotiated. This will be illustrated both at the macro and micro-level with empirical material we compiled in Cameroon and Nicaragua.
Poverty Reduction as Local Institutional Process presented at Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and Development Policy, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2003. Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, 26 pp.