1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Combating Poverty and Inequality: Structural Change, Social Policy and Politics


From Chapter 3 – Tackling Ethnic and Regional Inequalities

This chapter analyses the evolution of inequalities between different regions and ethnic groups in selected countries as well as policies for their mitigation.

Structural change affects individuals, groups and regions differently. Group membership is intrinsic to human development, and when the benefits and costs of structural change correspond to ethnic or religious affinities, or geographic location, individuals may perceive development in terms of those cleavages. Such inequalities can be a source of conflict and adversely affect well-being. However, measures of inequality that rank individuals and households by income often exclude group and spatial dimensions.

Group inequalities are closely linked to the ways in which groups are integrated into different sectors of the economy, as well as their representation in political and social institutions. They are also reflected in how identities are valued in the cultural sphere. Such inequalities are therefore multidimensional and encompass economic, social, cultural and political dimensions. Achieving equality in each of these dimensions has intrinsic value, and is also instrumental in promoting equality along other dimensions, or in achieving other development goals, such as poverty reduction.

The chapter is organized as follows
  • Section 1 discusses conceptual issues, patterns of regional inequality and reasons for the persistence of ethnic inequalities.
  • Section 2 compares country case studies across multiple dimensions of inequality and patterns of development. Countries are classified as agrarian, industrializing and dualist.
  • Section 3 concludes with a discussion of policies for correcting horizontal inequalities.

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