Thursday, September 13, 2012

Anirudh Krishna on Falling into Poverty

Like many other urban and middle-class Indians, I was raised to believe that people must be poor for some faults of their own. But these grandmothers’ tales disappeared like smoke when confronted with the reality that I experienced. Our team probed the factors associated with falling into poverty or remaining poor among a total of 35,000 households. Drunkenness, drug abuse, and laziness together accounted for no more than 3% of all instances (see Krishna 2010).

People are not poor because they wish to be poor or because of some character defect. Most have become poor due to influences beyond their personal control. These are the factors toward which preventive poverty policies must be geared. I will write of these factors in my next posting.

That's Prof. Anirudh Krishnaa, a professor of public policy and political science at Duke, discussing his research at the Ideas for India blog.

I came across his paper -- Escaping Poverty and Becoming Poor: Who Gains, Who Loses, and Why? -- way back in 2006 [I blogged about it at HtOHL; BTW, that site is no more, but lives on at the Internet Archive]. Krishna has gone on to write a book on this research: One Illness Away: Why People Become Poor and How They Escape Poverty.


  1. gaddeswarup said...

    I think is trying to put some of Anirudh Krishna's ideas in to practice. I read about it once in Ny times and it may be behind a pay wall now.
    Krishna and haggling have an interesting article on india's performance in Olympics

  2. Vikram said...

    I think Anirudh Krishna is a first rate scholar. Had covered one of his papers on the economy of rural and urban India between 1993-2005 on my blog,

  3. Vikram said...

    Regarding the excerpt, I dont really know if *MOST* middle class Indians believe that the poor are poor for some fault of their own. Most people tend to blame corruption, infrastructure and overpopulation.

    A more interesting study than trying to correlate poverty with drunkness, drugs etc would be to see if families that tend to have less children are more likely to escape poverty.

  4. Santosh Sali said...

    Is this book "One illness Away" available as a Indian Edition ? 27 Pounds is bit high on pocket to buy ?

    Any pointers ?

  5. gaddeswarup said...

    It seems a bit cheaper at amazon, the kindle edition is about 15 dollars
    Indian edition is about 560 rupees