Simon Feeny and Mark McGillivray
This article examines the relationship between foreign aid and poverty in developing countries, with the goal of determining whether donor governments are motivated and actively set out to reduce poverty in developing countries through the provision of aid but with the impact of aid on poverty reduction. It begins with an overview of the aid and poverty record based on global data from the 1980s onward, with particular emphasis on Official Development Assistance (ODA). It then considers the analytics of aid and poverty before reviewing the relevant literature, including studies that address the impact of aid on growth and growth elasticity of poverty. The article argues that aid has had a marginally positive impact on poverty reduction in developing countries, and that poverty would be slightly higher without it.
Analyzing the Socio-Technical Transformation of Energy Systems: The Concept of “Sustainability Transitions”
Dealing with the immense societal challenges of climate change and resource depletion requires no less than a fundamental transformation of the energy system, comprising not only technological change, but also cultures of energy use and consumption, new regulations, and new types of actors operating on the energy market. A growing field of interdisciplinary social science research on “sustainability transitions” deals with the dynamics and governance of such transformative, systemic, and socio-technical change processes toward sustainability. This chapter gives an overview of concepts used to study energy system transitions, their strengths and shortcomings, as well as new advancements. The chapter also discusses a concrete example of socio-technical change in the field of renewable energy—wind power—and reflects on some of the lessons that can be drawn from this about the interdependence of energy and society and for an understanding of transitions toward a more sustainable energy system.
This chapter examines global energy trends, whether a global renewable energy transition is already taking place, and what steps are needed to further accelerate the global deployment of renewables. It first considers the expansion of renewable energy in light of global energy trends, noting that a global energy transition is not yet a reality but is urgently needed. It then looks at drivers and barriers for an accelerated expansion of renewable energy and proceeds by discussing how renewables are moving from the sidelines to the center stage of global energy governance. In particular, it describes the politics behind the creation of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organization on renewable energy, as well as current challenges for global governance on renewable energy. The chapter shows that global renewable energy capacities have grown significantly but that global energy supply is still dominated by fossil fuels.
This chapter explores three central questions. The first section describes the four core varieties of capitals: cultural, social, economic, and symbolic. It highlights some peculiarites of Bourdieu’s approach: the focus on symbolic capital, a definition of social capital different from those of North American. A second section questions the limits of economic metaphors. Bourdieu borrows from the lexicon of economics (capitals, conversion rates). But he devotes attention to the sociopolitical dimension of the struggles for defining the conversion rates between capitals and warns that “rational” actions are one historical dimension of a complex space of “reasonable” actions. Finally, the chapter discusses the question of the number of capitals. Should one add to Bourdieu’s list something like a bodily or erotic capital? If each field values a specific capital, should researchers produce an endless list of specific capitals, or are these specific capitals always combinations of the four basic ones?
Rod Hick and Tania Burchardt
This article examines capability deprivation as the basis for analyzing poverty. The capability approach, developed initially by Amartya Sen, questions the “informational space” on which considerations of poverty, inequality, justice, and so forth, should be based. According to the capability approach, the appropriate “space” for analyzing poverty is not what people have, nor how they feel, but what they can do and be. After providing an overview of the concepts that comprise the capability approach, this article discusses three key questions within the literature regarding the nature of the approach, namely: the question of functioning and/or capabilities, the question of a capability list, and the question of aggregation. It also describes some prominent empirical applications that have been inspired by the capability approach and concludes with an assessment of the current state-of-the-art literature on the capability approach.
Mark R. Rank
This concluding article proposes a new paradigm in which to understand poverty, focusing primarily on the United States even as several dimensions of the paradigm apply globally across other countries. It first considers the major tenets of the “old” paradigm, which is to a large extent a reflection and affirmation of both the free market economic structure and the culture of individualism that have profoundly shaped the American ideology. It then introduces the new paradigm, which aims to stimulate a fundamental shift in how we conceptualize and act toward the problem of poverty, and some of its major themes: poverty results from structural failings; poverty is a conditional state in which individuals move in and out; poverty constitutes deprivation; poverty as injustice; the condition of poverty affects and undermines each one of us.
The ongoing, large demand for oil in the United States has helped push oil companies from onshore to offshore, increasing the complexity of the operations and the risks. This has been encouraged by US policy, which has historically encouraged an increase in both national oil demand and domestic oil production. This chapter focuses on expanded offshore oil drilling in the United States and its risks, highlighting the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil blowout. Such events are examples of explicitly “human-caused” disasters that nonetheless can be expected to increase as we resort to lower quality and harder to reach fossil fuels, offering an interesting example of Charles Perrow’s concept of “normal accidents.”
Celeste Watkins-Hayes and Elyse Kovalsky
This article examines the trope of deservingness, one of the most enduring narratives used by government officials, the media, and the larger public to classify poor people and to determine whether they are worthy of assistance. It first considers the concept of deservingness and how it fits into popular explanations of poverty and the work of distributing public resources. It then describes the use of the concept of deservingness throughout the history of poor relief in the United States, with particular emphasis on how race, gender, and citizenship have been deployed to shape deservingness narratives in two important areas of social provision: cash assistance and health care. Finally, it reviews recent trends in the deployment of the deservingness/undeservingness discourse, highlighting areas that require more analysis.
This article examines the dynamics of poverty and explains why poverty dynamics studies are necessary: to estimate the risk of impoverishment and the probability of escaping poverty; to identify the reasons associated with poverty descents and escapes; to distinguish between transient and chronic poverty; and to elucidate the social mobility prospects of individuals in different economic situations. The article begins with an overview of three types of approaches used in investigating poverty dynamics: panel data studies, participatory poverty assessments and ethnographic studies, and mixed-method studies. This is followed by a discussion of key findings from poverty dynamics studies; one finding is that poverty creation and poverty reduction occur everywhere in tandem. The article concludes by outlining future directions for research into poverty dynamics.
David Brady and Markus Jäntti
This article explores the interrelationships among poverty, economic performance, and inequality in rich countries. It argues that poverty rises and falls with the business cycle and economic performance. Business cycle refers to macroeconomic fluctuations in economic growth, unemployment, and employment. Higher economic growth and lower unemployment rates mean more individuals employed. Because a job is one of the most effective ways to remove a household from poverty, macroeconomic performance should directly influence individual poverty. This article first describes the statistical models used to estimate the effects of economic performance on poverty before reviewing studies that assess the effects of economic performance on poverty and income inequality. In terms of economic performance, it analyzes the effects of the business cycle, economic growth, unemployment rates, and GDP per capita.