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Regional themes > Poverty reduction frameworks and critiques Last update: 2020-11-27  

Global Poverty Research Group

Poverty persistence and transitions in Uganda:
A combined qualitative and quantitative analysis

David Lawson, Andy McKay and John Okidi

Global Poverty Research Groups

January 2005

SARPN acknowledges the ESRC Global Poverty Research Group as a source of this document:
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Uganda’s excellent record in reducing the national incidence of monetary poverty over the 1990s is widely known. However, panel data over this period shows that this net aggregate reduction was accompanied by substantial mobility into as well as out of poverty (Okidi and McKay, 2003). A majority of those that were poor in 1992 had escaped by 1999, but a substantial minority were left behind and many others fell into poverty. Therefore, against the background of Uganda’s impressive macroeconomic performance over this decade, there was a significant variation in individual experiences of poverty movements, and it is important to understand the factors, many of which are individual or local, that contributed to this.

We develop the understanding of these movements by combining qualitative and quantitative insights at the individual, household and community level. This analysis builds strongly on earlier work by Okidi, with different authors, exploiting the available panel data sets for Uganda (Deininger and Okidi, 2003; Okidi and McKay, 2003, among others). The paper analyses panel data covering the 1992-1999 period in combination with available qualitative information. In particular, the results of the two assessments conducted as part of the Uganda Participatory Poverty Assessment Process (UPPAP) are used to gain insights to the factors associated with poverty transitions and persistence. The qualitative sources add substantially to the information available from the panel survey data alone, by helping to identify key issues to investigate using the survey data and by providing important additional insights not available from the survey data, including about processes and contextual factors.

This paper is structured as follows. In section 2 we briefly review general approaches to developing a dynamic understanding of poverty, including persistent or chronic poverty. Building on this, in section 3 we outline the available qualitative evidence on the key factors and processes identified by communities and their members as lying behind their experiences of poverty transitions or non-transitions. In particular, we identify some clear individual, household, community and local policy factors contributing to impoverishment. Sections 4 and 5 then builds on the qualitative evidence by presenting descriptive and econometric analysis drawing on household panel survey data. In this way we are able to consider the importance of different factors behind movements in monetary poverty. In section 6 we conclude by synthesising the qualitative and quantitative insights, and then comment on the methodological scope for combining qualitative and quantitative approaches to enhance the understanding of poverty dynamics.

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