Understanding how the poor respond to economic crisis has become increasingly important, especially for governments and donors. This understanding can help ensure that interventions aimed at reducing poverty complement and strengthen people ' s own inventive solutions rather than substitute for or block them. This booklet summarizes the main findings of a comparative study of four poor urban communities in countries experiencing economic difficulties during the 1980s: 1) Chawama, in Lusaka, Zambia; 2) Cisne Dos, in Guayaquil, Ecuador; 3) Commonwealth, in Metro Manila, the Philippines; and 4) Angyalfold, in Budapest, Hungary. The study explored how poor households respond to changes in economic circumstances and labor market conditions. The poor always face harsh conditions, but economic stress and decline intensify adversity. The study looked at how poor households adjust to a deteriorating situation, what strategies they adopt to limit the impact of shocks and generate additional resources, and what constraints impede their actions. The results show that the four communities cope in remarkably similar (and dissimilar) ways.