Posts tagged ‘poverty’

May, 2014

New migration, poverty and super-exclusion?

Professor Jenny Phillimore

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Yesterday I described how the advent of new migration had led to the emergence of superdiversity.  Today I outline how a combination of state responses to migration and the UK’s de-regulated labour market are combining to bring wide-scale and in some case extreme poverty which might be described as super-exclusion.  In this article I bring together data from a recently published re-analysis of the Survey of New Refugees undertaken with Dr Sin Yi Cheung and from two Joseph Rowntree-funded reviews of poverty that will be published in the next few weeks.  The first looks at the situation of asylum seekers (with Dr Nando Sigona and Jenny Allsop) and the second economic migrants (with Dr Simon Pemberton and Professor David Robinson).

Poverty is often portrayed as the main reason that people migrate.  Of course we know that this is not always the case.  Spousal and family migrants come to join an existing migrant and forced migrants seek sanctuary from persecution although they are often depicted as being drawn to industrialised countries by generous levels of welfare.  Our recent research shows that the rhetoric around migration offering people a better life may be misplaced and that high levels of poverty are the reality for many living in the UK.

Asylum seekers are totally dependent on asylum support because they are not permitted to work.  In 2011-12, an asylum seeking couple with children received 59% of Income Support and a lone parent just 52% – around £36 a week. Evidence shows these levels are so low they struggle to meet everyday needs such as paying for food and transport.  Indeed recently a judicial decision confirmed that freezing rates at such low levels was flawed – a review of support rates will now be necessary.

The need for such a review is re-enforced by the re-analysis of the Survey of New Refugees that showed how asylum seekers experienced a range of health and employment problems even 21 months after they gained refugee status.  In particular it was clear that the living conditions imposed upon asylum seekers impacted upon their ability to integrate into a new life as refugees.  More about integration on Thursday.

But what about economic migrants?  They come to work so their economic situation should be better than asylum seekers and refugees.  The evidence from our review, which included new analyses of the Labour Force and Understanding Society Surveys, found low-paid migrant workers were more likely to experience poverty than UK nationals in low paid employment.  Low-paid, sometimes exploitative work impacted upon their health and well-being and left them more dependent on in-work benefits than the general population.  Their vulnerability to poverty was determined by their place in the labour market, lack of employment rights and the precariousness of their work.  There was clear evidence that they accessed poor housing, and this and long-hours and the dirty, dangerous and difficult nature of their work impacted upon health.  Migrant workers tended to live in areas where resources were already under duress.  They were frequently blamed by local people for living in over-crowded conditions and not maintaining properties when they had little choice about where to live.  Working long hours migrant workers had little time to socialise or engage in education including language classes which had ramifications for their ability to integrate.  Indeed we identified a vicious cycle of poverty that emerged from consequences of de-regulated work and policy responses to anti-migrant sentiment.

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So high levels of poverty are evident within the refugee, asylum seeker and economic migrant populations.  Yet these are migrant statuses that are likely to be in the more favourable economic positions.  JRF has just commissioned a detailed study of destitution which will hopefully shed some light on the lives of those migrants who are not permitted to work and have no access to public funds.  Work in progress for the KING migrant integration project is already beginning to show that family and spousal migrants are living in extreme poverty – not permitted to work, attend college and thus learn English, or access benefits leaves them particularly vulnerable to poverty and exploitation.

Given the extent of migration associated with the emergence of superdiversity it is likely, particularly if governments continue to pursue restrictionist welfare policies and support labour market de-regulation, that we will see poverty on a scale not seen for many decades perhaps the emergence of super-exclusion that may affect the lives of generations of migrants.  Tomorrow I focus on the experiences of migrant women using the maternity system and show how existing approaches to support and care are having tangible effects on infant and maternal mortality and morbidity.

Professor Jenny Phillimore is Professor of Migration and Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham.

Other useful links:

February, 2014

Academics Stand Against Poverty: Professional Association Helps Researchers Enhance their Impact on Poverty Alleviation

Dr Luis Cabrera

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For my first entry on the project blog, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about a newish academic association that shares many of the same interests as those affiliated with Saving Humans.

This association is Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP). It’s a non-profit, voluntary initiative designed to enhance academics’ impact on poverty alleviation. The driving idea is not so much to get academics out of the ivory tower, but to get those who’d never think of locking themselves up in such a place to share their ideas and experiences, collaborate where it makes sense, and generally just join forces to do a more effective job influencing poverty alleviation policy and practice.

ASAP was the brainchild of some relatively junior academics – political philosophers, in fact – working in Australia in 2009. They wanted to be able to play a more active role in some of the issues of global justice they were researching, and to help the global academic sector worldwide play as strong a direct role as possible on poverty and related issues. Their organizing efforts got a big boost from Thomas Pogge, the Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University, who was intrigued by the idea and ultimately agreed to serve as president of a formal organization.

Pogge is known as anything but an ivory tower philosopher. He has helped lead a team to investigate the most sound methods for actually measuring poverty. He also has a major project underway to develop the kinds of monetary incentives that would entice big pharmaceutical firms to develop treatments for diseases that mainly afflict the world’s poor – and to be paid by how many of those treated actually get better.

Under Pogge’s leadership, and with a great deal of behind-the-scenes work from the nine members of the ASAP Board, a 19-member advisory board comprised of very prominent poverty-focused academics and a single paid staff member (the indefatigable Rachel Payne), the organization has greatly expanded its presence. It has staged conferences at Yale, Birmingham and the University of Delhi, as well as at universities in Mexico, Spain, Germany, Australia, Norway and elsewhere.

ASAP also has launched or sponsored a number of projects aimed at enhancing academic impact on severe poverty. These include one focused on ensuring that the best research insights inform the global poverty alleviation goals which will replace the Millennium Development Goals after 2015. They also include projects concerned with economic rights and global climate change, the ways in which insights from psychology might inform poverty alleviation efforts, and a project aimed at helping poor persons in India become better informed and able to claim their government-backed entitlements.

I serve as vice president of the ASAP Board and head of a project called Impact: Global Poverty. It features profile articles on academics seeking to go beyond their straightforward research work to have a direct positive impact on poverty alleviation policy or practice. I have been amazed by the kinds of impact projects people have taken on in addition to their day-to-day responsibilities at their universities or as doctoral students.

Profiles have included one on Sukhadeo Thorat, longtime Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, who has had enormous influence on Indian government and private sector policies on integrating dalit persons (former untouchables). We have profiled Prof. Alan Fenwick at Imperial College London, who heads a project that has treated millions suffering from neglected tropical diseases. We also have profiled Bijayalaxmi Nanda of the University of Delhi. She works with groups in the city focused on the worth of girl children and  ending sex-selective abortion. Other profile subjects have included Birmingham’s own Paul Jackson, for his work advising the Nepalese government on re-integration of former rebels into society; and Nicolas Lemay-Hébert, who has worked with Haitian academics and students suffering in the aftermath of that country’s devastating 2010 earthquake.

I have found all of these academics’ stories inspiring, and we have many more similar profiles in the works. If you know of an academic who is engaging closely with NGOs, policy makers, or is generally seeking to make an impact in addition to standard research work, we would love to know about her/him. Please send a note to me at a.l.cabrera@bham.ac.uk 

Many things are planned for the future with ASAP overall. The organization is growing rapidly, with a number of country chapters forming globally. We are now in the midst of a developing a long-term plan aimed at fully incorporating the chapters and opening more volunteer and related opportunities for ASAP’s 800-plus members worldwide. I am happy to answer any questions about the organization, and I would encourage all academics with an interest in issues of poverty to join.

Luis Cabrera is Reader in Political Theory, Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Birmingham. 

November, 2013

‘A chance to cuddle babies!’ by Fiona Cross-Sudworth, Midwife at Birmingham Women’s Hospital

‘How lovely’ is often the reply when I say I am a midwife; ‘a chance to cuddle babies!’ they often add. While I agree that this is definitely a bonus, I don’t often mention the other side of my job: the privilege of also caring for mothers who don’t get to cuddle or take their baby home. 

Death of a baby whether a stillbirth or neonatal death is upsetting for the healthcare professionals involved and must be unbelievably difficult for the parents concerned. The Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity have calculated that 17 new families a day in the UK are grieving. The UK actually has one of the highest stillbirth rates in the developed world. 

Some of the risk factors contributing towards stillbirths and early neonatal deaths are known including intra-uterine growth restriction, poverty, infection and maternal medical conditions. However, there is still a raft of information even about the known risk factors that are not understood well, making further research into the cause and prevention of stillbirths a pressing need. 

In addition, we as healthcare professionals still have lots to learn about how and what we communicate from current research to pregnant women. Women must be able to look after themselves and their unborn babies as well as understand what warning signs to look out for (such as reduced or absent fetal movements).

Effective, research-based care will be what reduces our stillbirth rates. Here in the West Midlands this rate has reduced year on year. This is considered to be as a result of a multi-disciplinary approach to identifying intra-uterine growth restricted babies; arguably one of the most significant risk factors in stillbirth. That’s finally some good news.

Further links:

CMACE Reports

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