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More than three billion people are poor by international standards, and essentially all are to be found in the low- and middle-income countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The issues for understanding poverty in the developing world - among them, self-employment and household enterprises, agricultural work, casual employment, and informal work – differ from those in the developed world. Different policy issues predominate: stimulating economic growth, harnessing the energies of the private sector, increasing paid employment, and raising the returns to self-employment. This chapter details how the poorer half of the world’s people work and gives an overview of lessons from around the world on what has helped improve their earning opportunities. The chapter concludes with suggestions for future research.


Suggested Citation

Fields, G. S. (2011). Poverty and low earnings in the developing world [Electronic version]. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, ILR School site:

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Copyright held by the author.