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Do the Poor Count?

Democratic Institutions and Accountability in a Context of Poverty

Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson

Publication Year: 2010

Published by: Penn State University Press

Front Cover

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Table of Contents

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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

Many people deserve my thanks and appreciation. It would not have been possible to carry out this study without the support and cooperation of many, many people in the Honduran Congress, ranging from the many deputies who graciously granted interviews to the staff who helped me navigate the informal rules of operation. While I cannot thank all the interviewees, there ...

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Chapter 1: Institutions,Poverty, and Democratic Consolidation

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pp. 1-26

Do the poor count in Latin American politics? As voters, of course poor people count in democratic regimes. Winning poor people’s votes can be essential to win elections. But do poor people count after the election—do the officials they helped to elect in fact represent them? This book explores whether, when, and how poor people count. It examines how the limited ability of poor ...

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Chapter 2: Theorizing Representation and Accountability in a Context of Poverty

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pp. 27-52

Principal-agent relationships are often used to study mechanisms of accountability in democratic systems, with citizens as the principal and the elected official as the agent.1 Elegant in their simplicity, principal-agent models define boundaries and limiting conditions, such as the optimal payment to the agent (Barro 1973), and the level of monitoring that will motivate the agent to seek reelection and also produce the policy and services the principal desires (Ferejohn 1986). Scholars also ask whether elections are ...

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Chapter 3: Institutions and Poor People's Confidence in their Legislature

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pp. 53-74

King, Keohane, and Verba (1994) urge researchers to find multiple observable implications of theory. For the role of institutions in a context of poverty, a variety of macro and micro observable implications exist. This chapter presents the first of several observable implications of when poor people count in Latin American countries by using cross-national data about poor people’s ...

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Chapter 4: Evolution of Institutions: An Overview of Honduras's Political History

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pp. 75-109

This chapter has a dual purpose: to trace the development that led to Honduras’s current democratic institutions, and to dispel myths. Outlining the country’s history demonstrates how political parties and clientelism are major themes of Honduran politics, rather than the violence that has characterized its better-known neighbors, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. It also ...

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Chapter 5: Institutions and Incentives in Honduras's Third-Wave Democracy

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pp. 111-125

Many democracies have formal institutions like those found in Honduras, but how they function in Honduras is influenced by the country’s history and the informal institutions that the Liberal and National parties brought into the new regime. Institutions need to be analyzed in concert, incorporating their path-dependent development, because the combination of institutions creates the institutional milieu shaping the capacity of poor and rich ...

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Chapter 6: Institutions,Incentives, and Roles: Legislators' Identities About Their Job

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pp. 127-148

Institutions constrain the strategies legislators adopt to achieve career goals, and they also shape legislators’ identities about their job. The institutional milieu of a country’s politics should draw certain types of people into politics. Katznelson and Weingast (2005, 10) argue that “individuals often have preferences by virtue of being in an institutional and political environment with determinate characteristics. . . . Indeed, members without these preferences soon ...

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Chapter 7: Roles,Attitudes, and Actions: Does Anyone Represent Poor People?

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pp. 149-170

This chapter continues the examination of micro-level observable implications of the theory of incentives to represent poor people. Chapter 6 presented the three informal preference roles found in the Honduran Congress, and assessed which deputies have an incentive to represent poor people given the identity and preferences that led them to adopt their role, the capacity of poor people to monitor and sanction, and the constraints that institutions place on deputies. ...

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Chapter 8: Do The Poor Count in Latin American Democracies?

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pp. 171-197

This book explores whether, when, and how representation and accountability exist in a context of poverty. It asks, do the poor count in Latin American politics? . . . or was O’Donnell (1992) correct to worry that poor people would once again be ignored? These are important questions for democratic consolidation because in most Latin American countries poor people make up a large part of the population. It is hard to imagine that democratic regimes ...


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pp. 199-204


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pp. 205-223


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pp. 225-233

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780271053608
E-ISBN-10: 0271053607
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271037516
Print-ISBN-10: 0271037512

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 24 tables
Publication Year: 2010