Fracture Points in Social Policies for Chronic Poverty Reduction

49 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2011

See all articles by Kate Bird

Kate Bird

Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

Nicola Pratt

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: October 1, 2004


This paper examines the fracture points, or areas of weakness and failure, in social policy formation - from agenda setting through to policy formation and its legitimisation. It suggests why it is that despite clearly identified severe and widespread problems, which have been shown to drive and maintain poverty and which are also clearly associated with marginalisation and vulnerability, policy makers may still fail to generate adequate responses. Social policies have been selected as the focus of this study because they are generally weakly addressed by the development and poverty policies of both donors and developing country governments. Five illustrative case studies in the paper identify the political economy and administrative barriers to policy innovation and implementation in Uganda and India, and from this analysis we draw conclusions of broader application. The selected issues are disability; mental illness; alcohol dependency; inheritance systems that privilege inheritance through the male line, and dispossess women as a result; and the near destitution of older people without support. These have not been selected because they necessarily affect a larger number of people than other issues or because they necessarily have the strongest causal link with chronic poverty, marginality or vulnerability, but rather because they represent a wide range of different groups of people and the policy responses to them are illustrative of the different fracture points in the policy formation and implementation process. Nevertheless, these issues are of considerable importance to many poor people in developing countries, and may prevent more orthodox approaches to poverty reduction - growth, health, education - from having their intended effects.

Keywords: policy, politics, land reform, disability, gender, health, lifecycle, old age

Suggested Citation

Bird, Kate and Pratt, Nicola, Fracture Points in Social Policies for Chronic Poverty Reduction (October 1, 2004). Chronic Poverty Research Centre Working Paper No. 47, Available at SSRN: or

Kate Bird (Contact Author)

Overseas Development Institute (ODI) ( email )

111 Westminister Bridge Rd.
London, SE17JD
United Kingdom

Nicola Pratt

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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