Icon Our WorkWhy ‘The Poor’ Don’t Exist (And What This Means For Social Protection Policy)

In our 16th Pathways Perspective, Charles Knox-Vydmanov, of HelpAge International, argues that by conceptualising those living in poverty as a static group known as ‘the poor’, the reality of poverty and vulnerability in countries is distorted.

He goes so far as to argue that ‘the poor’ is, in fact, an imaginary construct created by the limitations of the tools available for poverty analysis. Once this is recognised, it becomes evident that comprehensive social protection floors – comprising social transfer schemes that address lifecycle risks- should be the priority for the extension of effective social security.

Charles Knox-Vydmanov is a Social Protection Policy Adviser at HelpAge International. He worries that it may be poor judgment to challenge the concept of ‘the poor’. Yet he is adamant that social protection is less about different categories of people and more about different things that happen to people.