A Critical Assessment of Poverty Reduction Urban Policies in Brazil and the United States: Towards a New Framework
Policies to reduce urban poverty are increasingly important, not only in developing but also in developed countries, if we consider that, in absolute numbers, urban poverty seems invariant in relation to economic growth. Although different methodologies and conceptual frameworks surfaced to deal with poverty reduction, the way to achieve it is not yet clear. In this paper we try to develop a comprehensive approach to deal with urban poverty reduction policies. To do so we divide the current approaches into two different dimensions, and conclude that most policies do not consider the individual dimension, thus hampering social mobility. The paper presents a critical assessment of urban poverty reduction policies and shows that such policies are still in early stages of development, with procedures like municipalization and community participation just now being carried out. We use two case studies, Favela-Bairro in the city of Rio de Janeiro and a program in workforce development in New York City. Finally, we conclude that most urban poverty reduction programs fail to adequately consider the positive network externalities generated by policies acting upon the individual dimension. While programs like Favela-Bairro are a huge improvement over the inefficient national policies of the past, such programs still suffer from a multi-sectoral and not a multi-dimensional approach. The New York program presents interesting results by focusing on the individual dimension, even if it leaves out other important dimensions for reducing urban poverty: infrastructure and community.
Keywords: Poverty Reduction, Urban Poverty, Social Mobility, Favela Bairro, Work Development Program
Prof. Rodrigo Zeidan
Associate Professor, School of Business and Management, Unigranrio
Prof. Jeffrey Goldstein
Professor, School of Business, Adelphi University