Rural Poverty and an Agrarian Crisis in Sri Lanka, 1985-95: Making Sense of the Picture

This study examines the evidence of an apparent decline in rural poverty in Sri Lanka recorded in the World Bank’s 1995 Poverty Assessment Report in the light of strong indications of an agrarian crisis in rural areas. The answer is found to lie in the high and increasing level of remittances and transfers from Middle East employment, recruitment in the armed forces, and public transfers under the government’s poverty alleviation programmes. It is argued that the growing dependence on inflows of incomes from these various sources (and in particular the remittances from abroad) negates “behaviouralist” assumptions that underlie the World Bank’s policy recommendations for non-plantation agriculture.

Research team

David Dunham
Chris Edwards

Published Year

1997