This paper examines chronic poverty in the developing country context within the entitlement theory approach. The dialogue on entitlement theory originally introduced by Sen is extended here to explore poverty and its persistence, or chronic poverty. A conceptual framework is presented, in which poverty and its persistence are explained within the context of the individual's economic and non-economic situation and development incentives. These attributes are influenced by the individual's entitlements. It is shown that poor endowments and resource base are important causes of persistent poverty. Policies aimed at reducing poverty therefore must address problems associated with improving the entitlements of individuals and households. The definition of ‘entitlements’ in the paper is not restricted to material possessions—the economic entitlements of the individual or the household—but is extended to incorporate the individual's skills, education and productive ability—the non-economic entitlements. The discussion is rooted in the increasing awareness of multidimensional poverty. The paper focuses on rural poverty in certain parts of India, where most of India's chronic poverty is situated. Over a million people can be classified as chronically poor in terms of duration, severity and deprivation. This is despite the government's commitment to the eradication of poverty since the early 1950s, with a total expenditure of nearly $7 billion in the past 50 years.