Policy Seminar

Why Don't "The Poor" Have A Louder Voice When They Are Many?

2020 Seminar Series: Action for the World’s Poorest and Hungry
Apr 25, 2007 - 07:30 pm to 09:00 pm UTC

A number of reasons have been used to explain why the poor do not have a louder voice in democracies where they form the majority or a large part of the population. Low levels of political activism, caste divisions, tribal frictions, regional differences are some of the reasons often given. Results from a new set of poverty studies show that infrequent collective action by the poor is explained by differences in interests within “the poor” resulting from varying trajectories into and out of poverty. Large numbers of poor people were not born poor but have fallen into poverty within their lifetimes. Others who were poor in the past have succeeded in escaping out of poverty. Substantial movements in both directions regularly change the composition of the poor and distinct subgroups are defined by these varying trajectories into and out of poverty. In this seminar Anirudh Krishna, Professor at the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University, will discuss how members of these different subgroups have diverse political interests, economic needs, and mobilization potential results. Prof. Krishna will also speculate on ways in which the poor can be encouraged to have a louder voice in democracies in which they form the majority.