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The Psychology of Poverty Alleviation


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Table of Contents

Part I Introduction; 1. The Challenges of Conflict Sensitive Poverty Alleviation; 2. Political Economy Considerations Part II The Underlying Psychology; 3. Identity, Attributions, Deservingness Judgments, and Hostility; Part III Lessons from Pro-Poor Policy Instruments; 4. Conditional Cash Transfers; 5. Social-Sector Spending Targeting the Poor; 6. Pro-Poor Subsidies and the Problem of Leakage; 7. Affirmative Action; 8. Regional Development Targeting the Poorest Areas; Part IV Overcoming Obstacles in the Policy Process; 9. How the Wealthy React to Pro-Poor-Labeled Initiatives; 10. Lessons and Conclusions.

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Explores the psychological insights needed to establish successful poverty-alleviation programs in developing countries without destructive conflict.

About the Author

William Ascher is Donald C. McKenna Professor of Government and Economics at Claremont McKenna College.


'In this ground-breaking book, Professor Ascher applies social identity theory and other psychological insights to the problem of garnering and maintaining political support for policies to reduce poverty. In the current context of intensifying political polarization, this book is essential reading for academics, political leaders, and policymakers.' Judith Teichman, University of Toronto
'Redistributive policies create winners and losers. This tour de force by Professor Ascher examines key redistributive policies for poverty alleviation - among them affirmative action, cash transfers, and social spending. Ascher demonstrates what makes these policies acceptable to key stakeholders, as well as what generates resistance and spark into conflicts. An instant classic, it will long be read and discussed by students and scholars of social policies.' Arun Agrawal, University of Michigan
'Ascher is a scholar advocate for redistributive policies that blunt the harsh edges of capitalism by giving it a humanistic surface. The theoretical arguments and case studies in this volume make the best possible case for that viewpoint.' Michael Lofchie, University of California, Los Angeles
'If you want to understand how psychological insights inform and help shape successful policies to reduce poverty, this is the book for you. Using case studies from a multitude of countries in the developing world, Ascher provides a succinct and useful set of policy recommendations that serve as a guide for those of us working towards sustainable economic growth, poverty alleviation, reducing hunger and inclusivity of all groups. This book is a must read for all development professionals.' Michael Curtis, United States Agency for International Development
'This book provides an eloquent and seamless synthesis of insights from psychology, sociology, political science and policy sciences to illuminate the many reasons why pro-poor policies may succeed in some settings and fail in others. It steadfastly avoids sweeping and unsupportable generalizations, instead using carefully chosen case studies to illustrate the interplay of these factors in the design, implementation and fate of common pro-poor policy instruments in developing countries. It will interest and inspire academics with a theoretical or practical bent as well as policy makers and policy shapers in governments, donor organizations and civil society. With this impressive work, Professor Ascher has done a great service to the legions of people and organizations committed to policy alleviation but frustrated by the limited success, unsustainability or abject failure of so many efforts. May it be widely read and pressed into service by these people and organizations.' David Pelletier, Cornell University

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