We analyse intertemporal poverty in two important dimensions – income and nutrition – in less developed northwest China during 2000-2004. A generalised recursive selection model is proposed which enables simultaneous estimation of the causes of intertemporal poverty within and between dimensions. Improvement in agricultural production is crucial for reducing both dimensions of intertemporal poverty. We find evidence suggestive of intertemporal income-nutrition poverty traps. Higher labour productivity, especially in agriculture rather than local off-farm activities or outmigration, holds much potential for breaking the vicious circle. Agricultural innovation and mechanisation, regarded by the government as indispensable, yield mixed outcomes for intertemporal multi-dimensional poverty reduction.