Skip to content
Society, Politics & Law
  • Audio
  • 5 mins

Evan Davis on... low income consumers

Updated Friday, 30th October 2009

Does capitalism benefit low income consumers? Evan Davis, presenter of The Bottom Line, gives us his view.

This page was published over five years ago. Please be aware that due to the passage of time, the information provided on this page may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate, and any views or opinions expressed may no longer be relevant. Some technical elements such as audio-visual and interactive media may no longer work. For more detail, see our Archive and Deletion Policy


Copyright The Open University


Copyright The Open University


There is an argument that capitalism doesn’t serve people who don’t have very much money, that profit-hungry companies when they’re choosing where to allocate their resources will put it into serving people who have money, the well-off, the affluent, rather than trying to put it into serving the needs of low-income customers who don’t have much money and you’re never going to make any money out of.

You hear the argument best exemplified by the case of prescription drugs. The drug companies, they don’t put much money into curing malaria, which affects the developing world; they put a lot of money into trying to cure stomach ulcers, which affect the rich world. There’s definitely some truth in that line of argument. But there is a counterargument too which is worth dwelling on.

It’s that capitalism is very good at advancing the boundary of technology and producing things that will help people. They’ll produce drugs and eventually of course those drugs will be picked up and taken by the less well off. So capitalism isn’t a one-way street only for the rich and against the poor, and the internet provides a wonderfully good example.

Of course the internet is picked up and used by the well-off and primarily by the well-off, and it is still primarily by people in the better off spectrum, the middle class, rather than the socially-excluded. But piece by piece, bit by bit the internet has been used more by people lower down the income spectrum as it’s got cheaper to do so, and they can afford to do things that ten years ago, twenty years ago would have only been in the domain of the rich.

So yes capitalism has its weaknesses, but it also has its strengths. That’s my view. You can join the debate with the Open University.


That’s Evans opinion, join the debate and tell us your view…





Related content (tags)

Copyright information

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?