Anirudh Krishna's Poverty, Participation, and Democracy: A Global Perspective PDF

By Anirudh Krishna

For too lengthy a traditional knowledge has held sway, suggesting that bad humans in terrible international locations are usually not supportive of democracy and that democracies might be sustained in simple terms after a undeniable ordinary point of wealth has been completed. facts from 24 different international locations of Asia, Africa and Latin the USA tested during this quantity indicates how bad humans don't worth democracy any below their richer opposite numbers. Their religion in democracy is as excessive as that of alternative electorate, they usually perform democratic actions up to their richer opposite numbers. Democracy isn't really more likely to be volatile or unwelcome just because poverty is frequent. Political attitudes and participation degrees are unaffected via relative wealth. schooling, instead of source of revenue or wealth, makes for extra dedicated and engaged democratic voters. Investments in schooling will make a serious distinction for stabilizing and strengthening democracy.

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The first issue is whether poverty is best understood in terms of absolute levels of deprivation or the relative social positions of individuals and groups (Seers 1969; Sen 1976, 1981). Standard metrics of poverty – such as poverty datum lines – do not have universal meaning in all settings. Not only does the purchasing power of any monetary unit vary greatly across countries; the salience of poverty depends critically on surrounding distributions of wealth and opportunity. The same absolute level of poverty will be much more visible in an unequal society and have different social and political consequences than in places where life chances are more evenly distributed.

What of the second argument? Do elites, instead, support democracy only insofar as their wealth is not threatened by redistributive demands emanating from mobilized poor people? And will they be willing and able to subvert democracy when they feel these threats are growing too large? Let us take note first that a distinction needs to be made between poverty, on the one hand, and inequality, on the other. Muller (1988: 66; emphasis in original) finds that “a very strong inverse association is observed between income inequality and the likelihood of stability versus breakdown of democracy.

The future of democracy is not under threat because of lack of support among poor people in poor countries. But could it be that democracy is still under threat in these countries either despite – or more worryingly, because of – what poor people feel about democracy? Establishing that poor people strongly support democracy does not amount to showing that democracy is itself firmly established. Alternative scenarios presented in different parts of the literature indicate possibilities for democratic reversal that will need to be separately addressed.

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