Christiane Ströh de Martínez is an economist and specialized on development economics and microfinance during her doctorate. Since her undergraduate studies, she has focused her research on Latin America and has conducted field research in the region. She has been teaching on development-related subjects in different German universities and has professional experience as a consultant in development cooperation. In her consultancy, she aims at transferring insights from academia to the practice of development cooperation, especially in the field of financial sector development.
In her current post-doc project, she studies poverty from a qualitative and participatory perspective. In contrast to the widely used aggregate indicators such as the monetary poverty line, this approach enables to assess economic poverty dynamics during the last decades from the poor households’ perspective. Furthermore, the way how poor populations lead with economic opportunities and shocks will be researched.
The case of Brazil is particularly interesting due to the impressive poverty reduction at aggregated levels during the last 15 years. At the same time, the country is characterized by large-scale social programs and has experienced important economic and social change during the last decades. As different poverty dynamics often require different types of policy interventions, a deeper understanding of the economic strategies of the poor can provide valuable insights for public policy and development cooperation – in Brazil and elsewhere.
The research of Christiane Ströh de Martínez focuses on development-related topics. Her current post-doc project takes a participatory approach to analyze poverty dynamics in Brazil. During the last years, she has mainly worked on financial sector development and microfinance. Her empirical research area is Latin America.
A Qualitative Analysis of Economic Poverty Dynamics and Related Mitigation Strategies. The Complex Case of Contemporary Brazil
Income poverty has been reduced drastically in Brazil during the last 15 years. This is at least the message of aggregate quantitative indicators such as the monetary poverty line. However, these indicators do not inform on the qualitative changes of (economic) wellbeing of households and individuals. Furthermore, they often hide the number of people falling into poverty due to new poverty risks, even if more people escape from it according to survey data. Related to these poverty dynamics, it has been shown that micro-level determinants for escaping from poverty differ fundamentally from the ones for declining into poverty. The impact of the related events on the poor population’s lives depends, however, partly on their economic strategies – or the ways they lead with the upcoming difficulties or opportunities.
Accordingly, a micro-level and qualitative analysis of poverty dynamics from an economic perspective is proposed. Although poverty is being recognized as multidimensional, the research focuses on changes and determinants of economic well-being. For such an analysis, the perspective of the people themselves, hence a qualitative and participatory approach is necessary. The proposed methodology consists of a new combination of the method of Stages of Progress method by Krishna (e.g. 2004, 2010) with the Financial Diary method (e.g. Collins et al. 2009). The first method allows capturing long-term changes of (economic) poverty dynamics, and the second one adds the detailed analysis of day-to-day economic transactions of poor populations and the underlying economic strategies. The two methods will be combined in a two stages process: In a first step, changes in poverty during the last 15-20 years will be analyzed with the Stages of Progress method. In a second step, Financial Diaries will be used to study the ways poor populations lead with events that act as drivers of positive and negative poverty dynamics. Hence, their economic strategies and earning and spending patterns of money and in-kind assets will be explored.
The case of Brazil is particularly interesting given the impressive poverty reduction at aggregated levels during the last 15 years. Furthermore, the country is characterized by large-scale social programs and has experienced important economic and social change during the last decades. At the same time, inequalities between regions and populations segments seem to persist. Even though the sampling will pay attention to the heterogeneities which characterize the country, only a limited number of the various socio-cultural and economic formations of Brazil can be explored.
Related research can benefit from the newly developed combination of named methods and the different focus of the application of the Financial Diary method. Furthermore, new insights into economic poverty dynamics in the Brazilian case will be generated. As different poverty dynamics often require different types of policy interventions, a deeper understanding of the important determinants and the economic strategies of the poor is relevant for a meaningful design and improvement of public policy and development cooperation – in Brazil and elsewhere.
Ströh de Martínez, Christiane (forthcoming): Finance for the poor in demand: Who uses microfinance and why?, IPE Working Paper, Berlin: Institute for International Political Economy Berlin (IPE).
Ströh de Martínez, Christiane (2011): “‘Partnerinstitutionen als Wissensvermittler’ – Faktoren für den langfristigen Erfolg von Partnerinstitutionen der Sparkassenstiftung”, in: Bonner Schriftenreihe zur Entwicklungsfinanzierung, no. 5, Bonn: Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation.
Crayen, Dorothee; Hainz, Christa; Ströh de Martínez, Christiane (2010): "Remittances, banking status and the usage of insurance schemes", in: CESifo Working Paper, No.3117, http://ssrn.com/abstract=1638868http://ssrn.com/abstract=1638868.
Ströh, Christiane (2010): „Wirtschaft von unten: Solidarische Ökonomie in Brasilien als ein Weg aus der sozioökonomischen Misere?“, in: Costa, Sérgio; Kohlhepp, Gerd; Nitschack, Horst; Sangmeister, Hartmut (eds.): Brasilien Heute, Berlin: Biblioteca Ibero-Americana des Ibero-Amerikanischen Instituts Preußischer Kulturbesitz, pp. 415-428.
Ströh, Christiane (2010): How to assess pro-poor financial sector development: A comprehensive framework applied to the case of Peruvian microfinance, doctoral dissertation at the School of Business & Economics of the Free University of Berlin, Berlin: Universitätsbibliothek der Freien Universität Berlin, www.diss.fu-berlin.de/diss/receive/FUDISS_thesis_000000019090.
Ströh, Christiane (2006): “Mikrofinanzen und Armutsbekämpfung in Lateinamerika: Ist Brasilien unter Lula ein Modell? Der Eintritt der Banken in den brasilianischen Mikrofinanzsektor”, in: Lateinamerika Analysen Nr.13, Hamburg: Institut für Iberoamerika-Kunde, pp. 121-146/ (2007, in Spanish): “Microfinanzas y reducción de pobreza en América Latina: ¿Puede la Bancarización brasileña servir de ejemplo?” in: O Brasil na América Latina: Interações, Percepções, Interdependências, ADLAF, Annablume Editora, pp.215-238.
Nitsch, Manfred; Ströh, Christiane (2006): „Muhammad Yunus. Ein Banker für die Armen“, Serie Entwicklungstheorie – Wer ist wer?, in: eins - Entwicklungspolitik Information Nord-Süd, Heft 22-2006, p. 53-55.
Ströh, Christiane (2006): “Apostando na continuidade? O eleitor brasileiro ante os dilemas do governo Lula”, in: Iberoamericana N° 23, Berlin: Instituto Ibero-Americano, pp.188-194.
Ströh, Christiane (2005): „Handlungsspielräume aktueller brasilianischer Wirtschaftspolitik – Herausforderungen, Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Regierung Lula“, in: Stehr, Christopher (ed.): Globalisierung – Chancen und Risiken, Ulm: Polymundo.
Ströh, Christiane (2005): „Die indigene Bewegung in der Politik Ecuadors: Neue Akteure und ein neuer Stil“, in: Sevilla, Rafael (ed.): Ekuador - Welt der Vielfalt, Bad Honnef: Verlag Horlemann, pp.81-100.