What is chronic poverty? Findings from the Chronic Poverty Research Centre

Research reports and studies
September 2015
Melanie Punton and Andrew Shepherd

Chronically poor people experience deprivation over many years, often over their entire lives, and frequently pass poverty on to their children. This distinguishes chronic (or persistent) poverty from transitory poverty – where people move in and out of poverty or only occasionally fall below the poverty line.

Severe poverty figures show poverty levels at a single point in time. In contrast, chronic poverty is defined by its duration – usually more than five years. Most severely poor people are also chronically poor, but some chronically poor people are not severely poor.

The Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC) was funded by the Department for International Development from 2000 to 2011. It was a multi-country, multi-disciplinary and multi-partner research programme focusing on the lives of the world’s poorest people. This summary paper highlights key findings and provides a gateway to CPRC’s ground breaking research.

The work of CPRC continues through the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network (CPAN), which aims to increase awareness of chronic poverty and use evidence to improve the effectiveness of policies and programmes.