Poverty dynamics and disability in rural Bangladesh: learning from life-history interviews

This paper explores the relationship between disability and poverty dynamics in rural Bangladesh drawing from 293 life-history interviews conducted by the author and a small team of researchers in 2007. The aim of the paper is to use existing life-history interviews to provide initial insights into the relationship between poverty and disability in Bangladesh.

This work examines these cases and draws attention to the way that poverty, and especially extreme poverty, can magnify the disabling effect of impairments, including chronic illnesses – which are more likely to be experienced as disabilities when exacerbated by poverty. The effects of common physiological or psychological impairments tended to be magnified by the harsh environments in which many poor people live. 

Finally, the paper examines the nature of the drivers of long-term decline in people’s lives when they are affected by both poverty and disability. These drivers combine: reduced opportunities, or impeded ability to exploit opportunities; heightened exposure to acute ‘shocks’ and chronic downward pressures; and long-term diminution of coping resources. 

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Author: Peter Davis