‘The Righteous Considereth the Cause of the Poor?’ – Public Attitudes Towards Poverty in Developing Countries

1 July, 2008


Update February 2010.  For the published version of the paper please follow this link to Political Studies.  The article appears in Volume 58 Issue 3 (June 2010).

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This is a recent paper that Jennifer van Heerde and I wrote on public attitudes to poverty. Click here to download the pdf of the October 2008 version of the paper.

The paper uses the raw data from the UK Department for International Development’s annual survey into UK public attitudes towards poverty in the developing world.  We find that individual level concern for poverty is affected by whether people see poverty as something which impacts upon them or not – those with self-interested attitudes tend to be less concerned about poverty.  This is important because (1) it suggests that material interests are not a good basis for building support for UK development policy, and (2) DFID and the OECD are looking to harness self-interested attitudes in building this support.  There is also a content analysis of 6 UK newspapers based on the questions from the survey.

This version of the paper is the latest (October 2008) and has been revised and resubmitted to Political Studies in the light of the referees’ comments.  It is hopefully the first in a number of papers that we are preparing on this topic.  Comments are very welcome!

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2 Responses to “‘The Righteous Considereth the Cause of the Poor?’ – Public Attitudes Towards Poverty in Developing Countries”


  1. Hi David,
    One of my PhD students, Chippie Kalebe-Nyamongo, is doing her PhD on elite attitudes towards the poor in Malawi. I should put you in touch with her if you’re doing work on this now.

  2. David Says:

    Hi Heather – that’d be great. We’ve not got as far as elite attitudes yet, but we’re working towards it. Always happy to talk and help.


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