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Why poor people stay poor : a study of urban bias in world development

CollectionsANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: Why poor people stay poor : a study of urban bias in world development
Author(s): Lipton, Michael
Date published: 1977
Publisher: London : Canberra, ACT : Temple Smith ; Australian National University Press
The great division in the world today, says Michael Lipton in this outstandingly important book, is not between capitalist and communist, black and white, east and west, or even between rich and poor nations. It exists within the poor countries themselves, and it is the division between city and country. In developing countries especially, wealth is drained from the country, where a little investment would produce big increases in desperately needed food production, and channelled into the cities where people who are often far better off put it to far less productive uses. As a result, while many of the poorest countries have considerably increased their output of wealth since 1945, the poorest people have grown no richer and have sometimes been thrust into even deeper poverty. We now pay lip-service to the need to develop agriculture, but Professor Lipton shows how biased the distribution of wealth still is. The income gap between city and country is much larger in the Third World today than it was in the early development in Europe and Japan. Moreover public policy - on investment, education and prices - pushes urban and rural incomes even further apart. Even when resources are made available to farmers, they all too often go to the big land- owners producing crops for the city dweller to eat, rather than to smaller farmers who, by allying intensive labour to even a small inflow of capital, could create a much higher increase in production. Why Poor People Stay Poor examines how this unhappy situation came about. Politicians, planners and experts are not {u2018}wicked{u2019}, but respond to pressures, which are strongest from their articulate, organised, concentrated urban neighbours. Ideologies - liberal, Marxist, populist - have also helped national leaders to convince themselves that such an inequitable process was right and necessary. In reality, in terms of efficiency as well as justice, it has had terrible consequences in hunger and thwarted development. Why Poor People Stay Poor analyses one of the great problems of the present-day world in an astute and original fashion, and it sets out guidelines for a future that could hold out hope to many millions of oppressed and impoverished people.


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