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The Psychology of Poverty Alleviation: Challenges in Developing Countries, William Ascher

Reviewed by Elaine K. Denny

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How do policymakers build public support for pro-poor initiatives, particularly among the resource rich? Scholars of U.S. public opinion have highlighted the role (and plasticity) of perceived group identities in influencing support for such policies. Framing social welfare beneficiaries by class instead of by race wins more support from whites (see Reaching Beyond Race by Paul M. Sniderman and Edward G. Carmines, for example); changes in imagery describing likely beneficiaries interact with the public’s underlying stereotypes to impact policy support (see Gilens, 1996). The Psychology of Poverty Alleviation: Challenges in Developing Countries underscores the need to understand how similar social psychology dynamics vis-à-vis economic identity are manifested in comparative contexts. In analysis centered on cases from South Asia and Latin America, William Ascher unpacks how group identity influences perceptions of policy deservingness and shapes the likelihood that pro-poor policies succeed.

The Psychology of Poverty Alleviation asserts the government’s importance in implementing pro-poor programming, ideally through initiatives that increase the government’s capacity

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