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The process by which poor parents pass on their poverty and disadvantage occurs primarily during their children's earliest years of life, perpetuating an underclass, and in so doing impairing the basis for a fair and stable society. This intergenerational transmission of poverty (ITP) is a particularly powerful force in today's Latin America, where economies are in crisis and unequal distribution of income emblematic.
Escaping the Poverty Trap examines and proposes early childhood investment policies that could decisively change the prospects for the next generation of the poor in Latin America. Contributing authors include Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and Gro Harlem Brundtland, director-general of the World Health Organization.
In examining the effects of family background on ITP in 16 Latin American countries, the study emphasizes that conception through preschool is the period when vulnerability to lifetime damage is greatest, but also when there is the most potential for cost-effective interventions to break out of that destructive cycle. Insufficient education is cited as the primal vector of poverty throughout the life cycle and across generations.
The authors find that interventions that offer quality childcare and complementary services not only provide a healthy and nurturing environment for children, but also open up opportunities for their parents to earn a better living. The book outlines basic principles to guide the design of early childhood care and development programs, including the need to empower parents, address all of children's unmet development needs, adjust to the local socioeconomic context, intervene preventively, make programs financially sustainable, and focus resources on households where the development outlook of children would most likely be improved.
About the Author:
Ricardo Morán worked on childhood development issues as a Senior Economist at the Inter-American Development Bank.
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