Do the Poor Become Dependent on Charity? The False Logic Of Charity Hurts

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4 Responses

  1. Hello Anita, thank you for your article. There is no doubt that charity has an important, fundamental place, but I think it’s role with regard to sustainable economic development is often misunderstood. The Chalmers Center published a good piece on the difference between relief and development ( I also recommend you read When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert if you have not done so already (

    Lastly, here is a short clip from our DVD Series in which people from the developing world call attention to some of the ways they have been negatively affected by well-intended charitable efforts. I’d be interested to know what you think.

    Charity That Hurts [PovertyCure Episode 1]

    Certainly charity is critical in certain situations. But if we misunderstand it’s role with regard to sustainable, long-term development, we can actually end up holding people back.

    • ARKellogg says:

      Thank you, Mark Weber, for your comment. My initial objection was to the way the poor are often characterized in the typical charity hurts narrative — something that your video admirably avoids. The fact that cash transfers are a completely new idea in aid programs, however, underscores the kind of stories that get told about the poor: they are unreliable, won’t invest the money well, will spend it all booze, etc. On the other hand, your video also makes the astute point that some forms of charity may have good intentions but aren’t necessarily designed to consider the longer term impact.

      Unfortunately, as a whole, encouraging entrepreneurship does not have a better long term track record than traditional aid programs. In some cases micro-loans, the method advocated by Peter Greer, have been found to hurt more than help the individuals who receive them. There has also been a surprising lack of interest in designing programs that independent researchers can later study to determine their long-term impact. The following program from NPR’s Planet Money and This American Life capture the complicated dynamics of aid and development. I think you would enjoy listening to it.

      I wish all the best with your charity.

  1. August 17, 2013

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  2. June 26, 2014

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