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Andy Sumner

Andy Sumner

Andy Sumner

Reader in International Development 


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Andy Sumner is a Reader in International Development in the Department of International Development at King’s College London.

He has fifteen years’ international research experience using both qualitative and quantitative methods and has published extensively, including ten books. His most recent books are Global Poverty (2016, OUP) and Development and Distribution (2018, OUP).

He is Director of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Global Challenges Strategic Research Network on Global Poverty and Inequality Dynamics.

He was appointed at King’s in 2012 and established, with Peter Kingstone, the International Development Institute which became the Department of International Development. Previously, he was a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex.

He is a member of the ESRC Peer Review College and has also held various roles in academic networks, including as a Vice President of, and UK representative to, the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) from 2008 to 2014, and as a Council Member of the Development Studies Association, UK and Ireland, from 2000 to 2014.

He is an editorial board member of the Journal of International Development, of the European Journal of Development Research and of Global Policy. He is also Deputy Executive Editor of Global Policy and book series co-editor for Palgrave Macmillan’s Rethinking International Development.

He holds associate positions at Oxford University; the Center for Global Development, Washington DC; the United Nations University, WIDER, Helsinki; and the Centre for Economics and Development Studies, Padjadjaran University, Indonesia.

His research has been cited by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), by international development agencies such as the World Bank and UN agencies, and by media including The Economist. He has also been asked to contribute expertise to various policy-related processes such as the Select Committees of the House of Commons, the UN International Panel on Climate Change, and a Lancet Poverty Commission, and he has been listed in US magazine Foreign Policy’s ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers’, and in the Huffington Post’s ‘Most Influential Voices’.


Andy's research is at the interface of development studies and development economics.

His research interests focus on the distributional and welfare dynamics of late economic development in developing countries and Southeast Asia in particular, notably Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. In short, how different modes of economic development and structural change have different welfare outcomes.


Research Projects

ESRC Global Challenges Research Network on Global Poverty and Inequality Dynamics

The Growth, Inequality and Poverty (GrIP) Project

Inclusive Growth and Structural Change in Southeast Asia


Books Authored & Co-Authored

Sumner, A. (2018) Development and Distribution: Structural Change in Southeast Asia. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Sumner, A. (2016) Global Poverty: Deprivation, Distribution, and Development Since the Cold War. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Glennie, J. and Sumner, A. (2016) Growth, Poverty and Foreign Aid. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Sumner, A. and Mallet, R. (2012) The Future of Foreign Aid: Development Cooperation and the New Geography of Global Poverty. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Jones, N. and Sumner, A. (2011) Child Poverty, Evidence and Policy. Bristol: Policy Press. 

Sumner, A. and Tiwari, M. (2009) After 2015: International Development Policy at a Crossroads. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Books Edited

Langford, M.; Sumner, A. and Yamin, A. (eds) (2013) The Millennium Development Goals and Human Rights. New York: Cambridge University Press. 

Rugraff, E., Sánchez, D. and Sumner, A. (eds) (2008) Transnational Corporations and Development Policy: Critical Perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Teaching Books

Tribe M.; Nixson, F. and Sumner, A. (2010) Economics and Development Studies. London: Routledge.

Sumner, A. and Tribe, M. (2008) International Development Studies: Theories and Methods in Research and Practice. London: Sage.

Journal Articles

Edward, P. and Sumner, A. (2018) ‘Global Poverty and Inequality: Are the Revised Estimates Open to an Alternative Interpretation?’ Third World Quarterly.

Wietzke, B. and Sumner, A. (2018) ‘The Developing World’s “New Middle Classes”: Implications for Political Research’. Perspectives on Politics.

Cobham, A., Davis, W., Ibrahim, G. and Sumner, A. (2017) ‘Hidden Inequality: How Much Difference Would Adjustment for Illicit Financial Flows Make to National Income Distributions?’ Journal of Globalization and Development 7.1.

Hoy, C. and Sumner A. (2016) ‘Global Poverty and Inequality: Is There New Capacity for Redistribution in Developing Countries?’ Journal of Globalization and Development 7.1: 117–57.

Sumner, A. (2016) ‘Why Are Some People Poor?’ European Journal of Development Research 28.2: 130–42.

Cobham, A., Schlogl, L. and Sumner, A. (2016) ‘Inequality and the Tails: The Palma Proposition and Ratio’. Global Policy 7.1: 201–11.

Anshory Yusuf, A. and Sumner, A. (2015) ‘Growth, Poverty and Inequality under Jokowi’. Bulletin of Indonesian Economics Studies 51.3: 323–48.

Sumner, A. and Glennie, J. (2015) ‘Growth, Poverty and Development Assistance’. Global Policy 6.3: 201–11.

Alkire, S., Roche, J., Seth, S. and Sumner, A. (2015) ‘Identifying the Poorest People and Groups: Strategies Using the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index’.Journal of International Development 27.3: 362–87.

Edward, P. and Sumner, A. (2014) ‘Estimating the Scale and Geography of Global Poverty Now and in the Future: How Much Difference do Method and Assumptions Make?’ World Development 58: 67–82.

Sumner, A. and Edward, P. (2014) ‘Assessing Poverty Trends in Indonesia by International Poverty Lines’. Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies 50.2: 207–25.

Cobham, A. and Sumner, A. (2014) ‘Is Inequality all about the Tails? The Palma Measure of Income Inequality’. Significance 11.1: 10–13.

Greenstein, J., Gentilini, U. and Sumner, A. (2014) ‘National or International Poverty Lines or Both? Setting Goals for Income Poverty after 2015’. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities 15.2: 132–46.

Anshory Yusuf, A., Sumner, A. and Rum, I. (2014) ‘Twenty Years of Expenditure Inequality in Indonesia, 1993–2013’. Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies 50.2: 243–54.

Vázquez, S. and Sumner, A. (2013) ‘Revisiting the Meaning of Development: A Multidimensional Taxonomy of Developing Countries’.Journal of Development Studies 49.12: 1728–45.

Sumner, A. (2013) ‘Poverty, Politics and Aid: Is a Reframing of Global Poverty Approaching?’ Third World Quarterly 34.3: 357–77.

Sumner, A. and Mallet, R. (2013) ‘Capturing Multidimensionality: What Does a Human Wellbeing Conceptual Framework Add to the Analysis of Vulnerability?’.Social Indicators Research 113.2: 671–90.

Glassman, A., Duran, D. and Sumner, A. (2013) ‘Global Health and the New Bottom Billion: What do Shifts in Global Poverty and Disease Burden Mean for Donor Agencies?’ Global Policy 4.1: 1–14.

Sumner, A. (2012) ‘Where Do The Poor Live?’ World Development 40.5: 865–77.

Sumner, A. (2012) ‘Poverty, Vulnerability and Class: The Expanding Non-Polar Groups and Development’.Public Administration and Development 32.4–5: 444–54.

Kanbur, R. and Sumner, A. (2012) ‘Poor Countries or Poor People? Development Assistance and the New Geography of Global Poverty’.Journal of International Development 24.6: 686–95.

Sumner, A. (2011) ‘The Global Economic Crisis and Beyond: What Possible Future(s) for Development Studies?’ European Journal of Development Research 23.1: 43–58.

Sumner, A. (2010) ‘Child Poverty, Well-Being and Agency: What does a “3-D Well-Being” Approach Contribute?’.Journal of International Development 22.8: 1064–75.

Sumner, A. and Tiwari, M. (2009) ‘After 2015: What are the Ingredients of an “MDG-PLUS” Agenda for Poverty Reduction?’Journal of International Development 21.6: 834–43.

Sumner, A. and Harpham T. (2008) ‘The Market for “Evidence” in Policy Processes: The Case of Child Health Policy in Andhra Pradesh, India and Viet Nam’. European Journal of Development Research 20.4: 712–32.

Sumner, A. and Tribe, M. (2008) ‘What could Development Studies be?’Development in Practice 18.6: 755–66.

Jones, N. and Sumner, A. (2008) ‘The Politics of Poverty Policy: Are Pro-Poor Policy Processes Expert-Led or Citizen-Led?’International Development and Planning Review 30.4: 359–76.

Jones, N. and Sumner, A. (2008) ‘Does Mixed Methods Research Matter to Understanding Childhood Well-Being?’ Social Indicators Research 90.1: 33–50.

Sumner, A. (2007) ‘Meaning Versus Measurement: Why Do “Economic” Indicators of Poverty Still Predominate?’ Development in Practice 17.1: 4–13.

Sumner, A. (2006) ‘In Search of the Post-Washington (Dis)Consensus: The ‘Missing’ Content of PRSPs’.Third World Quarterly 27.8: 1401–12.

Sumner, A. (2006) ‘What is Development Studies?’ Development in Practice 16.6: 644–50.

Sumner, A. and Tiwari, M. (2005) ‘Poverty and Economic Policy: What Happens When Researchers Disagree?’.Journal of International Development 17.6: 791–801.

Sumner, A. (2004) ‘Why are we Still Arguing about Globalization?Journal of International Development 16.7: 1015–22.

Recent Working Papers

Kim, K., Sumner, A. and Yusuf, A. (2017) How Inclusive Is Structural Change? The Case of Indonesia. ESRC GPID Network Working Paper. London: King’s College London.

Sumner, A. (2017) The Developer’s Dilemma: The Inequality Dynamics of Structural Transformation and Inclusive Growth. ESRC GPID Network Working Paper. London: King’s College London.

Yusuf, A. and Sumner, A. (2017) Multidimensional Poverty In Indonesia: How Inclusive Has Economic Growth Been? ANU Working Papers in Trade and Development. Canberra: ANU.

Hoy, C. and Sumner A. (2016) Gasoline, Guns and Giveaways: Is There New Capacity for Redistribution to End Three Quarters of Global Poverty? Center for Global Development (CGD) Working Paper. Washington DC: CGD.

Edward, P. and Sumner, A. (2016) Global Inequality and Global Poverty Since the Cold War: How Robust is the Economic Narrative? CROP Working Paper. Bergen: CROP/UiB.

Sumner, A. (2016) The World’s Two New Middles: Growth, Precarity, Structural Change, and the Limitations of the Special Case. UNU-WIDER Working Paper. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER.

Edward, P. and Sumner, A. (2015) Philanthropy, Welfare Capitalism or Radically Different Global Economic Model: What Would it Take to End Global Poverty within a Generation Based on Historical Growth Patterns? Center for Global Development (CGD) Working Paper. Washington DC: CGD.

Edward, P. and Sumner, A. (2015) New Estimates of Global Poverty and Inequality: How Much Difference Do Price Data Really Make? Center for Global Development (CGD) Working Paper. Washington DC: CGD.

Cobham, A., Schlogl, L. and Sumner, A. (2015) Inequality and the Tails: The Palma Proposition and Ratio Revisited. UNDESA Working Paper. New York: UNDESA. 

Schlogl, L. and Sumner, A. (2014) How Middle Class are the ‘Emerging Middle’ or ‘Scooter Class’ in Indonesia? A Household Asset Approach to Social Stratification. Center for Economics and Development Studies (CEDS) Working Paper. Bandung: Padjadjaran University, Indonesia.

Sumner, A., Anshory Yusuf, A. and Suara, Y. (2014) The Prospects of the Poor: A Set of Poverty Measures based on the Probability of Remaining Poor (Or Not) in Indonesia. Center for Economics and Development Studies (CEDS) Working Paper. Bandung: Padjadjaran University, Indonesia.

Wietzke, B. and Sumner, A. (2014) What are the Political and Social Implications of the ‘New Middle Classes’ in Developing Countries? International Development Institute (IDI) King’s College London Working Paper. London: King’s College London.

Sumner, A. and Tezanos, S (2014) How Has the Developing World Changed Since the late 1990s? A Dynamic and Multidimensional Taxonomy of Developing Countries. Center for Global Development (CGD) Working Paper. Washington DC: CGD.

Alkire, S., Roche, J., Suman, S. and Sumner, A. (2013) Identifying the Poorest People and Groups: Strategies Using the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index. OPHI Working Paper. Oxford: University of Oxford.

Cobham, A. and Sumner, A. (2013) Is It All About the Tails? The Palma Measure of Income Inequality. CGD Working Paper. Washington DC: CGD.

Edward, P. and Sumner, A. (2013) The Geography of Inequality: Where and by How Much Has Income Distribution Changed since 1990? CGD Working Paper. Washington DC: CGD.

Yusuf, A., Sumner, A. and Rum, I. (2013) Twenty Years of Expenditure Inequality in Indonesia, 1993–2013. Center for Economics and Development Studies (CEDS) Working Paper. Bandung: Padjadjaran University, Indonesia.

Sumner, A. (2013) Global Poverty, Aid, and Middle-Income Countries: Are the Country Classifications Moribund or is Global Poverty in the Process of ‘Nationalizing’? UNU WIDER Working Paper. Helsinki: UNU WIDER.

Edward, P. and Sumner, A. (2013) From Low Income, High Poverty to High-Income, No Poverty? An Optimistic View of the Long-Run Evolution of Poverty in Indonesia by International Poverty Lines, 1984–2030. Working Paper in Economics and Development Studies. Bandung: Department of Economics, Padjadjaran University, Indonesia.

Alkire, S., Roche, J.M. and Sumner, A. (2013) Where do the World's Multidimensionally Poor People Live? Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative, Oxford: University of Oxford.

Sumner, A. (2012) The Buoyant Billions: How ‘Middle Class Are the New Middle Classes in Developing Countries? (And Why Does It Matter?). CGD Working Paper. Washington DC: CGD.

Sumner, A. (2012) Where Will the World’s Poor Live? An Update on Global Poverty and the New Bottom BillionCGD Working Paper. Washington DC: CGD.

Sumner, A. (2012) From Deprivation to Distribution: Is Global Poverty Becoming A Matter of National Inequality? IDS Working Paper. Brighton: IDS.

Sumner, A. (2012) Where Do The World’s Poor Live? A New Update. IDS Working Paper. Brighton: IDS.

Gentilini, U. and Sumner, A. (2012) What do National Poverty Lines tell us about Global Poverty? Working Paper. Brighton: IDS.

Kanbur, R. and Sumner, A. (2011) Poor Countries or Poor People? Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management Working Paper, Ithaca: Cornell University [Also published as a CEPR Working Paper].

Sumner, A. (2010) Global Poverty and the New Bottom Billion: What if Three-Quarters of the World’s Poor Live in Middle-Income Countries? IDS Working Paper. Brighton: IDS.


Andy Sumner teaches the following modules:

  • Introduction to Development Studies (Undergraduate)
  • Poverty, Inequality and Social Policy (Undergraduate)
  • Great Transformations, Pseudo-Miracles and Arrested Development: Emerging Economies and Development Theory, Concepts and Strategies (Postgraduate)
  • Poverty, Inequality and Inclusive Development in Emerging Economies (Postgraduate)


PhD Supervision

Andy Sumner supervises PhD students in the area of inequality dynamics and economic development in Southeast Asia.

He is supervisor of the following students:

Dharendra Wardhana (primary supervisor, with Jelke Boesten)

Ms. Rahmitha (primary supervisor, with Jelke Boesten)

Kyunghoon Kim (primary supervisor, with Peter Kingstone)

Diding Sakri (primary supervisor, with Arief Yusuf)

Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez (primary supervisor, with Andres Mejia Acosta)

Yangki Suara (primary supervisor, with Ed Gomez)


Andy Sumner has received research funding from the Department for International Development (DFID), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

He currently directs an Economic and Social Research Council Global Challenges Strategic Research Network.

Professional Activities

Editorships and board memberships

  • Deputy executive editor and editorial board member, Global Policy (2013–present)
  • Editorial board member, Journal of International Development (2016–present)
  • Editorial board member, the European Journal of Development Research (2016–present)
  • Book series co-editor, Rethinking International Development, Palgrave Macmillan (2009–present)


Membership of professional bodies

  • European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI)
  • Development Studies Association, UK and Ireland (DSA)
  • Association of South-East Asian Studies, UK (ASEAS-UK)
  • Society for the Study of Economic Inequality (ECINEQ)
  • Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE)

External roles

  • Economic and Social Research Council, Peer Review College (2017–)
  • ESRC Centres Commissioning Panel, Inclusive Growth (2016)
  • Research grant peer reviewer, ESRC, British Academy and Leverhulme Trust (2008–)
  • Vice President, European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) (2011–14)
  • UK Representative and Executive Committee member, EADI (2008–14)
  • Management Committee member, EADI (2008–14)
  • Chair, Teaching and Training Committee, EADI (2008–14)
  • Council member, Development Studies Association (DSA) (1998–14)
  • Study Groups Coordinator, DSA (2000–8)
  • Annual conference organiser, DSA (2007 and 2011 with EADI)
  • Co-chair, Poverty Study Group, DSA-EADI (2003–11)
  • Co-chair, Economics, Finance and Development Study Group, DSA (2000–5)
  • Chair, Global Development Network Awards for Poverty Research (2006–14)
  • External advisor, Mock Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise for development studies, London South Bank University (2012)
  • Reviewer, various development studies journals including World Development, Development and Change, and Journal of Development Studies
  • Chair, Global Development Network Awards for Poverty Research (2006–14)
  • External examining/advisor (undergraduate and postgraduate taught): University of Bath; SOAS University of London; University of Sussex; London South Bank University; Middlesex University
  • PhD external examining: University College London (UCL), SOAS University of London, University of Manchester, and London South Bank University

Internal roles

  • Research Director, REF lead and Senior Management Team, Department of International Development, King’s College London (2017–)
  • Co-Director, International Development Institute, King’s College London (2012–16)
  • School Executive Group, School of Global Affairs, King’s College London (2012–16)
  • Chair, Global Institutes Education Committee, KCL (2013–14)
  • Member, Global Institutes Postgraduate and Research Committee (2013–14)
  • Member, College Education Committee (2013–14)
  • Governing board member, London Asia Pacific Centre (2014–)












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