The Memberships Theory of Poverty: The Role of Group Affiliations in Determining Socioeconomic Outcomes
This paper describes a particular perspective on the causes of poverty: a memberships based theory. The idea of this theory is that an individual's socioeconomic prospects are strongly influenced by the groups to which he is attached over the course of his life. Such groups may be endogenous; examples include residential neighborhoods, schools and firms. Other groups are exogenous, including ethnicity and gender. I describe the main ideas of the memberships theory, characterize the empirical evidence in its support, and remark on its implications for anti-poverty policy.
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