Poverty and Precarity in the Pacific: Reframing Development and Wellbeing

Authors: John Overton*, , Warwick E Murray, Victoria University of Wellington
Topics: Development, Pacific Islands, Third World
Keywords: poverty, precarity, Pacific Islands, inequality, neoliberalism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Gallier B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Poverty in the Pacific Islands region has usually been studied through the lens of global poverty indices, such as those defined by the Millennium Development Goals of 2000-2015. These see a region characterised by some stark development needs largely concerned with relatively low monetary incomes, poor maternal and child health, low rates of literacy and gender imbalances. Richer countries of the Pacific metropole (USA, Australia, New Zealand etc) are seen both to be largely immune from these forms of poverty and as the source of development assistance to alleviate poverty in the Pacific Islands. However, the concept of ‘precarity’ has helped illuminate the livelihoods of many in these metropoles who face other sets of challenges to their welfare and wellbeing. People on benefits or low-paid and insecure forms of employment, or many who are retired or suffering from ill-health, struggle to meet housing and living costs. Thus ‘poverty’ (and wealth) in Oceania increasingly is not predicated on a simple rich country/poor country binary distinction but rather its forms are manifested in different, and linked, ways throughout the region. This paper seeks to explore a new framework for understanding these diverse livelihoods and suggests that they are increasingly linked by expanding economic networks and increasingly common political philosophies and strategies.

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