Image of Allister McGregorProfessor J. Allister McGregor

Professor in Political Economy

Contact Details

Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 1704
Room: 1.28, Elmfield Building
Feedback and Consultation Hours:
Tuesday 2-3pm, Wednesday 10-11am


Allister McGregor is Professor of Political Economy in the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield, UK. Before coming to Sheffield he was at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex, where he was leader of Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team and a member of the Senior Management Group. For many years prior to that he was in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Bath.

Allister graduated from the University of Stirling with a Joint Honours Degree in Economics and Social Anthropology (the only one granted by the University before Social Anthropology at Strirling was closed down). He then sought to pursue a career in international development, first working for Oxfam UK before taking a Dutch Government Postgraduate Scholarship to study for a Masters year at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. He completed his PhD at the University of Bath on the role of credit and debt in rural Bangladesh, exploring the relationships between poverty and patronage.

Professional Activities and Recognition

  • 2013 Lead Discussant Labour Party International Development Policy Review ‘Poverty and Inequality’.
  • 2011-2012 Programme Director: The Bellagio Initiative. ‘The future of international development and the philanthropic sector: Protecting and promoting human well-being in a challenging global context.’ Rockefeller Foundation.
  • 2012 Chair of Peer Review Panel for Norwegian Research Council, GLOBMEK (Globalisation of the environment, energy and climate) applications for the NORGLOBAL Programme, Oslo, January 2012.
  • 2010 Lead author and team leader for UN Global Pulse 2nd Annual ‘Voices of the Vulnerable Report’.
  • 2010-2012 Member of Project Advisory Group, Joseph Rowntree Foundation project, ‘Impacts of global economic crises on UK communities’.
  • 2010 Invited participant in a Blue Sky Workshop for the Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System (GIVAS) initiative of the UN Secretary General’s Office, at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Centre, Italy. 6-9 April 2010.
  • 2007-2009 Participant, discussant and contributing author to the first European Report of Development, European Commission 2007-2009.
  • 2007-2013 Member of core editorial team of the Journal of International Development.

Throughout his career he has used his background in economics, politics and social anthropology to study how the formulation and implementation of policies impact on poor people. His research involves the exploration of the interplay between poverty, vulnerability, power and inequalities. Between 2002 and 2008 he was Director of the ESRC Research Group on Wellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD). This involved a large multi-country, multidisciplinary team studying the social and cultural construction of wellbeing in four developing countries (Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru and Thailand). He has written extensively on the concept and methodologies for understanding human wellbeing and has worked with a range of organisations to operationalise it for public policy and practice. He was a lead author in and co-editor of ‘Wellbeing in Developing Countries.’ Cambridge University Press, 2007. He has acted advisor and consultant to wide range of national and interantional organisations (including UK DFID, UNICEF, OECD, OXFAM).

Recent Research Funding

2012-2015 UNICEF and Government of Zambia, The Wider Impacts of Social Protection (WISP). A study of the views, experiences and perceptions of Social Cash transfer programme recipients and their communities. US$592,000.
2012-2015 ESRC-DFID ‘Tangled in their own Nets: Wellbeing and Resilience Trade-offs in Coastal Fishing (circa £400,000)
2009-2010 ESPA NERC/ESRC/DFID Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation: Strengthening Research Capacity in Developing Countries. – PI on ‘Building Capacity for Sustainable Governance in South Asian Fisheries: Poverty, Wellbeing and Deliberative Policy Networks’. £150,000.
2002-2008 ESRC Research Group on Wellbeing in Developing Countries, Director and Principal Investigator. £3.5million.


I have led and contributed to a broad range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Where possible and appropriate I seek to use innovative and participatory approaches in teaching and training. I also seek to use current examples from my own work as a means of engaging students with contemporary debates and ongoing research. Currently I teach on a final year undergraduate option on ‘The Politics of Quality of Life’ and from Spring 2016 I will teach a Masters degree option on the ‘The Political Economy of Poverty’. I am convenor of the Department of Politics, Research Postgraduate Training Workshop.

I have supervised numerous Undergraduate and Masters degree dissertations, on a wide range of topics. I have been external examiner for Masters courses at a range of universities including LSE, University College London and the University of Sussex, and have been PhD examiner at the Universities of Manchester, Bath, Bristol, Sussex, Ulster and Deakin (Australia).

PhD Supervision

To date I have supervised fourteen successful PhD candidates. I am currently supervising two students.

I would welcome inquiries about possible PhD supervision on the political economy of poverty, inequality and human wellbeing. I have a particular interest in wellbeing in cities and in communities where there is a strong dependence on natural resources.

Publications and Papers

Full list of Publications

Key Publications

Examples of Recent Invited Papers and Keynote Lectures

  • 2013 Plenary Speaker and Chairperson, International Conference on Measurements and Policy Applications of Well-being in the Context of Accelerating Urbanization”, organized by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS, Beijing, 21-22 November 2013).
  • 2013 Lead Discussant, Preparatory Workshop for World Development Report 2013 – Managing Risk for Development. World Bank and GIZ, Berlin.
  • 2013 Plenary Speaker: OECD Global Development Forum: Innovative Approaches to Poverty Reduction, Social Cohesion and Progress in the Post 2015 World. Paris, 4-5th April 2013.
  • 2012 Invited Speaker in Closing Plenary Panel: ‘Conservation and Human Wellbeing: Integrating local voices into natural resource management.’ Interdisciplinary Workshop of the ESPA funded, Valuing Nature Network. 10th December 2012.
  • 2012 Invited Speaker, 4th OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge, and Policy "Measuring Well-Being and Fostering the Progress of Societies" October 2012, New Delhi, India. Presentation: Failing to Focus on Wellbeing: Increasing Vulnerability and Generating Conflicts.

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