The goals of this study are:
- to determine the relative importance of spatial factors in explaining household wealth;
- to identify the spatial characteristics of the chronically poorest, the consistently well off and households escaping from poverty as well as descending into poverty;
- to determine effects of compound disadvantages on the likelihood of chronic poverty;
- to assess the evidence of spatial poverty traps.
The results from this Kenyan study call into question the appropriateness of defining areas as poverty ‘traps’. While evidence suggests that spatial disadvantages have an increasing and compounding effect on the likelihood of chronic poverty, one’s poverty status and especially one’s ability to escape from poverty are not clearly defined by location. These conclusions, if they are found to hold elsewhere in rural Africa, may warrant a reassessment of whether spatial ‘traps’ or perhaps ‘spatial disadvantage’ may be a more accurate way of describing the spatial dimensions of poverty in this region. Just as there are many composite facets to an area being spatially disadvantaged, there are also many factors driving chronic poverty and poverty dynamics. This includes spatial factors, but also household-specific factors. The considerable heterogeneity of smallholder households typically found even within a given community underscores the limits of conceptualising poverty primarily in spatial terms, and highlights the need for policy to also address the important household-level factors leading to high levels of variation in wealth with communities.
Burke, W. J.; Jayne, T. S. Spatial disadvantages or spatial poverty traps: household evidence from rural Kenya. CPRC Working Paper 167. Chronic Poverty Research Centre, London, UK (2011) ISBN 978 1 907288 07 4