DSA2016: Politics in Development
The objective of this panel is to develop a nuanced, interdisciplinary understanding of the emerging 'new middle' in the developing world. It discusses these precarious groups along three lines of inquiry: political agency, economic inequality and insecurity, and gender relations.
The burgeoning global 'new middle' has attracted the interest of social scientists from a range of disciplines. The group has been labeled 'middle class' though much of the new group is not far above any reasonable poverty line and exists alongside established middle classes in developing countries.
The 'new middle' and the established middle have both been associated with political, economic and social change. Current developments in middle income and emerging markets from economic dynamism and economic stagnation, rising inequality, and civil unrest, to problems brought about by mass consumerism, widespread informality and social vulnerabilities form the background of a debate about the status and prospects of these newly non-poor groups. Such developments suggest a differentiated view on the emerging 'new middle' which takes into account the precarity that many in the developing world face.
The objective of this panel is to develop a nuanced, interdisciplinary understanding of the characteristics, agency and impacts of the emerging 'new middle' in the developing world.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Development and inequality in the African lions
This paper investigates data for seven Sub-Saharan African economies to consider the dynamics of growth and inequality over the period 1995 to 2015. It explores the factors leading to differences in the experiences and related policy implications.
This paper investigates data for seven Sub-Saharan African economies to consider the dynamics of growth and inequality over the period 1995 to 2015. The countries considered have all achieved overall growth rates of 6% per annum or more and growth in per capita income of 3% or more. Data from World Development Indicators are used to investigate changes in the incomes of different groups and the extent to which economic growth has improved the incomes of the poor and impacted on the levels of inequality. Some specific factors are considered as possible explanations for variations in the extent to which growth has benefited the poor, in particular the possibility that agriculture led growth may be pro-poor and mineral led growth may be pro-rich. Considerable variation is found in the experiences of different countries in relation to the extent to which growth has improved the position of the poor and there are considerable differences in overall indicators of inequality. In all cases except one the incomes of the poorest have improved over the periods for which data on distribution are available. However in all cases but one the Kuznets Ratio indicator suggests that inequality has increased.
Social class, life chances and vulnerability to poverty in South Africa
This paper interrogates issues involved in defining a middle class in high inequality countries. We argue that economic stability is a defining characteristic of the middle class and measure the South African middle class as a group that is likely to have an acceptable degree of economic stability.
The wave of upbeat stories on the developing world's emerging middle class has reinvigorated a debate on how social class in general and the middle class in particular ought to be defined and empirically measured. In economics, this debate has been focused on locating the middle class within a particular income or expenditure range, where debate over how to define appropriate class boundaries - especially the cut-off that separates the poor from the middle class - remains highly contested. The dynamic nature of poverty, however, has been largely overlooked in existing approaches. This paper aims to address this shortcoming.
We link the definition of social class to an in-depth analysis of social mobility with a focus on poverty persistence and vulnerability to poverty. Our assessment provides a more differentiated picture of the rigidity or fluidity of social structures than that which could be obtained by relying exclusively on absolute monetary thresholds. By doing so, we aim to provide a bridge between existing economic approaches and sociological class theory - particularly the Weberian concept of shared 'life chances'. In this sense, the contribution this paper makes is both conceptual, by proposing a class schema with particular relevance for the emerging and developing country context, and empirical, presenting an application to South Africa using recently available nationally representative panel data.
Understanding an emerging vulnerable group in Chile: out of poverty but in risk of being in poverty again
The objective of this paper is to define and characterize the growing group of people that is out of poverty but facing a high risk of falling into poverty in Chile. A threshold of probability of falling into poverty is defined, which divides the population between vulnerable group and middle class.
The population who has left poverty has been consistently growing in Chile since more than two decades. It is believed that this group of people who are out of poverty is feasibly better off than people in poverty but they still are facing a high risk of falling into poverty again. This paper aims at identifying and characterizing this group of people on vulnerability to poverty based on their probability of being in poverty. The paper uses panel data in Chile between the years 1996 and 2006 to identify the probability threshold that delimit the group in vulnerability to poverty and the income associated with each probability. These probability and income thresholds define the group of people in poverty -with low levels of income and a high probability to remain in poverty-, the population in vulnerability to poverty -with a high probability of being in poverty- and the population with a low probability of being in poverty, which can be understood as middle class. This paper characterizes these different groups and it explores how the different levels of insecurity that these groups confront are affected by their socioeconomic characteristics. This paper tries to contribute to the understanding of vulnerability to poverty in order to provide an effective Social Assistance to protect against poverty and deprivation.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.