Generational Bargain, Transfer of Disadvantages and Extreme Poverty: A Qualitative Enquiry from Bangladesh

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Why do the poor stay poor? And, crucially, why are their children likely to be poor and end up poor later in life? This is a familiar question in the fields of development, social policy and economics alike. Bangladesh has seen notable successes in reducing poverty, and yet, addressing the transfer of deprivations and disadvantages within and between generations still poses a major challenge for policy-makers. To date, literature on inter-generational poverty remains dominated by large quantitative panel data. By contrast, this study draws on a unique qualitative dataset of 72 extreme poor households across Bangladesh, examining how inter- and intra-generational bargains generate extreme poverty. It is argued that, while poverty is transferred inter-generationally, it is not transferred equally. Rather, transferred disadvantages are shaped by persistent forms of deprivation, discrimination and a household-level political economy that is highly gendered. The inter-generational transfer of poverty should be seen as a dynamic and negotiated process that is crucially shaped by intra-generational bargains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1173-1194
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Development Research
Issue number4
Early online date26 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2020


  • generational bargain
  • Bangladesh
  • extreme poverty, redistribution, political settlement, sharing the well, leaving no-one behind


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  • EEP/shiree

    Maitrot, M.


    Project: Central government, health and local authorities

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