Report on ending the vicious cycles of poverty

19 July 2021
Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
To the General Assembly at its 76th session, 20 October 2021


The report addresses the inter-generational persistence of poverty and how real equality can break the vicious cycles of poverty. In this report, the Special Rapporteur observes that children born in disadvantaged families are denied equal opportunities: their chances of achieving a decent standard of living as adults are significantly diminished by the mere fact that their parents are poor. The report examines the channels through which poverty is perpetuated, in the areas of health, housing, education and employment. The growth of inequalities itself is an important contributing factor: the more unequal societies are, the less they allow for social mobility, and wealth inequalities are particularly corrosive in that regard.

The report argues that ending the vicious cycles of poverty is within reach. Investments in early childhood education and care, inclusive education, the provision of a universal basic income for young people combined with an increased taxation of inheritance, and the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of socioeconomic disadvantage are key to breaking the cycles that perpetuate poverty. People in poverty face systemic discrimination in societies that remain deeply segregated by wealth: this calls for systemic remedies to overcome inherited divisions.