This summer I am doing research on attitudes towards poverty in Africa. We will be doing experimental surveys in Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Ghana to better understand how Africans view poverty and the poor living in poverty. Specifically, we are interested in if people view the poor as lazy or unlucky. This is a question that has been around in the U.S. for a long time and we know that people in the U.S. favor one or the other based on a lot of dimensions. Race, for example, influences how someone thinks of the poor and if there is a shared racial background then it is likely the poor will be viewed as lazy rather than unlucky. In an African context we are considering these questions looking at the specific factors like age, gender, level of education, and other factors that affect whether someone is viewed as lazy or unlucky as well as shared factors like ethnicity, gender, and others and how these correlate with views of poverty. We believe, for example, that women are more likely to view other women as unlucky but men as lazy all else equal. The same goes, we think, for shared ethnicity although we see competing arguments here such that people of the same ethnicity could be hard on each other. We finished collecting data in Senegal and we are now in Bassam in the Ivory Coast getting ready to start. I am working with a very talented group of young Senegalese and Ivorian college students. That is a lot of fun.
John Doces. Je vous écris de la Côte-d'Ivoire en Afrique.