The Political Representation of the Poor: How Electoral Rules Affect Poverty Responsiveness



Karen Jusko, Stanford University

Date and Time

January 24, 2008 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



Open to the public.

RSVP required by 5PM January 23.


CISAC Conference Room

Karen Long Jusko is an Assistant Professor (Subject to PhD) in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University, with expertise in comparative democratic politics and quantitative methods for cross-national research. Karen's current research program investigates how electoral rules affect the political representation of the poor. This research has been supported by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Dissertation Fellowship, a SSHRC Federalism and Federations Dissertation Supplement, and research grants from the National Poverty Center, and the Luxembourg Income Study, and the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University.

Dissertation Research

"The Political Representation of the Poor"

How do electoral rules affect the poor? How responsive are elected governments to the interests of low-income citizens? When do parties have an incentive to seek the support of the low-income citizens? These questions motivate a broadly comparative analysis of the relationship between antipoverty policy and electoral rules. Presenting a series of formal analytic examples, and using Luxembourg Income Study data in empirical analysis, this research demonstrates that electoral rules interact with the context in which elections are held -- specifically, the distribution of low-income citizens across electoral districts -- to create or limit legislators' incentives to be responsive to the poor. In this way, the very institutions of democratic government may undermine opportunities for a more equitable society. This dissertation project establishes the foundation of a research agenda motivated by broader questions about whether and how the institutions of contemporary democracies create incentives to build societies that reflect democratic ideals.

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