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Resilience, vulnerability and social isolation: barriers to poverty reduction in war

Lake, Milli, Pierotti, Rachael S. and Alik-Lagrange, Arthur (2023) Resilience, vulnerability and social isolation: barriers to poverty reduction in war. International Studies Quarterly, 67 (4). ISSN 0020-8833

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Identification Number: 10.1093/isq/sqad075


The majority of the world’s ultra-poor live in conflict-affected environments. Poverty reduction efforts are increasingly attempting to target the most vulnerable inhabitants of these settings. Few studies have so far examined their impacts. Against the backdrop of one of the largest humanitarian crises in recent years, survey data from the Central African Republic demonstrates that a year after the conclusion of a large social safety net program, the poorest female participants did not benefit proportionately to other women and men. We draw on 257 in-depth qualitative interviews in extremely difficult-to-access conflict-affected sites across the country to explore the puzzle of why the most vulnerable inhabitants of conflict-affected settings may fail to benefit equally from poverty reduction programs. We demonstrate that conditions of social isolation—rather than poverty itself—create two specific barriers to long-term benefits. First, social isolation means that the poorest women recipients lack the social support networks that permit others to respond to conflict-related shocks without draining all their new income on emergency spending. Second, small social networks create a shortage of labor and higher start-up costs for new revenue-generating activities, thereby preventing spending on investment opportunities. These factors highlight the social barriers to poverty reduction, which are often intensified by shocks born from war, that material aid alone fails to redress.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2023 09:33
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2024 19:18

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