Poverty Traps

To escape poverty traps that are caused by natural disasters, low-income households need assistance from public and private partnerships that is informed by risk analysis and based on local needs. 

Farmer Transportation ID 23002916 © Nikhil Gangavane | Dreamstime

Farmer Transportation ID 23002916 © Nikhil Gangavane | Dreamstime

The project analyzes the effects of systemic risk on the incomes and livelihoods of low-income households, including farmers. A central question is how extreme events such as floods and earthquakes can trap people in poverty. The project's research focuses on assessing the type and scale of such poverty traps and identifying mechanisms that can help to overcome them. 

Of particular concern are the livelihoods of those who own small farms, where natural disasters like droughts, floods and cyclones are the primary sources of risk. Although many conceptual studies of poverty traps have been undertaken, very little empirical and quantitative insight exists, and assessments of such risks have generally been based on deterministic analysis.

IIASA researchers are providing novel insights into this dynamic field of research through the following approaches:

  • Conceptual studies
  • Evidence based analysis
  • Modeling frameworks and analysis
  • Economic instruments
  • Insurance-related instruments
  • Focus on South Asia and Africa
  • Policy options and conclusions.

Institute researchers are also designing risk-financing instruments to help the poor cope with risks and recover from events that could push them into poverty traps.

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Last edited: 20 September 2017


Reinhard Mechler

Acting Program Director

Risk and Resilience

T +43(0) 2236 807 313

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313