Vulnerability has become the defining challenge of our times. More than one billion people worldwide live in extreme poverty. Facing risks exacerbated by natural hazards, ill-health and macroeconomic volatility, many are mired in inescapable poverty while millions others are on the brink of poverty.
The need to better understand vulnerability is pressing, particularly in the case of developing countries where bulwarks against risks can be in short supply. This volume brings together essays from leading scholars to study the critical dimensions of vulnerability in developing countries, including the relationship between poverty and vulnerability as well as vulnerability arising from ill-health and external shocks.
Reflecting the multi-dimensionality of vulnerability, the volume showcases a variety of methodologies that offer new perspectives on the use and relevance of vulnerability in economic development. Case studies focus on major developing countries like China and India, countries in transition, small island states and failing states. The volume concludes by offering a prescription on the necessary requirements to tackle vulnerability in developing countries, including strengthening household resilience, building appropriate safeguards against risk, and creating and maintaining quality institutions.
“In a world characterized by increasing risks at the micro and macro levels, understanding the determinants of vulnerability is at the cutting edge of poverty research and policy. This volume is a most timely contribution to helping understand how households, economies and states in the developing world are affected by risks and shocks, and what coping mechanisms might help to mitigate this vulnerability”.
—Stephan Klasen, professor of economics and coordinator of the Courant Research Center Poverty, Equity, and Growth in Developing and Transition Countries, University of Göttingen
“The editors and the various authors should be commended for embracing a subject of great relevance to a large number of developing countries, and for encouraging, within and outside the UN, deeper insights into the multi-faceted challenge of vulnerability and the many responses that can be brought to it.”
—Habib Ouane, director of the Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes, UNCTAD
Wim Naudé is a senior research fellow at UNU-WIDER. He was previously employed at North-West University in South Africa and in the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford.
Amelia U. Santos-Paulino is a research fellow at UNU-WIDER. She has also been a research fellow in the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.
Mark McGillivray is chief economist at the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). He has also served as deputy director of UNU-WIDER.
Part I: Income and health
Part II: Natural hazards and macroeconomic shocks
Part III: Conclusion