Does poverty lead to violence?

That was the title of my talk at the Development Research Institute conference at NYU a couple of weeks ago. I don’t yet have a firm answer to the question, but I am a skeptic.

A video of the talk (plus slides*) is here. So are talks by Bill Easterly, Yaw Nyarko, Raquel Fernandez, and Kevin Davis.

While others arguably gave better presentations, I think I got the angriest questions. Usually Bill gets all the venom, and I was happy to deflect some from him, if only for an hour.

* Appetite for sarcasm required

7 thoughts on “Does poverty lead to violence?

  1. Great talk Chris. Thanks for sharing the link.
    I too was surprised by the angry tone of several of the questioners.
    I’m looking forward to hearing the results of your studies.

  2. I had been waiting to re-watch the video to do my write up. You were a tough speaker to take notes from due to your style (which made your talk one of my favorites. I am glad to see you recognized the tenor of the comments.

    Are there any you would like to have been able to address further?

  3. Why do you keep showing black people in your slides from Africa? WHY?

    You gloss over the fact that .000000001% of Sub-Saharan Africans are not black. WHERE ARE THESE PEOPLE IN YOUR SLIDES, SIR?

    The way you keep portraying Africa as a place replete with Africans is frankly disturbing.

  4. josh, to be fair to the lady asking the question, she did acknowledge that her limited language skills meant that she did not understand much of what was being said. She seemed to be under the impression that the study was carried out in many different places (no idea where she got that from), not only Africa…

  5. Haha. My impression was that that particular commenter didn’t realize all of his work is in Africa… Oops.

  6. Would be interested in your take on the new WDR 2011. It makes a clear link also between unemployment, poverty and conflict: “In surveys of areas affected by violence, citizens cite unemployment as the main motivation for recruitment in both gangs and rebel movements — with corruption injustice and exclusion the main drivers of violence.” (WDR Overview)