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Welfare Dependence and Poverty Traps

This project investigates the extent to which public health provision enhances the capacity for social protection.

The poor are more vulnerable to disease, and poor health can perpetuate poverty and welfare dependency. This project will contribute new evidence on synergies between income support and public health, relevant to sustaining cash transfers on a wide scale, especially under austerity. It will also contribute to work on sustainable cities insofar as epidemics that diffuse more rapidly in dense urban areas will be studied. Previous attempts to identify causal effects of health on poverty have been frustrated by the poor being more likely to suffer health shocks, making it hard to isolate cause from effect. This challenge will be addressed by analysing administrative individual longitudinal data on the entire population of welfare recipients in Brazil, linked to hospital, clinic and vital statistics data, and using exogenous variation in local epidemic infection rates.

Principal Investigator: Professor Sonia Bhalotra, University of Essex

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Project part of

Sustainable Development 2016 Programme

This programme funds researchers in the humanities and social sciences working on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and generating evidence on the challenges and opportunities faced in developing countries.


We foster international collaboration in the humanities and social sciences, and promote the sharing of international perspectives on global challenges.

Other projects in this programme

Making Light Work