The ethics of anti-poverty policies

Authored by: Jonathan Wolff

The Routledge Handbook of Ethics and Public Policy

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138201279
eBook ISBN: 9781315461731
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores concepts of poverty, focusing on the notion of relative poverty, understood as ‘not having enough to fit in’. It draws on the capability approach to provide a deeper account of the harms of poverty, and considers policies to address those harms. Ideally social and instructional arrangements should be designed so that poverty does not arise, but in the world as it is, anti-poverty policies should be selected both for their effectiveness in alleviating the harms of poverty and for the avoidance of stigma. This will often mean strengthening public services, in addition to transfer of resources.

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