Frances-CRISE-wp - CRISE Working Paper Horizontal...

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CRISE Working Paper Horizontal Inequalities: A Neglected Dimension of Development By Frances Stewart WORKING PAPER 1 Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity, CRISE Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford
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1 Horizontal Inequalities: A Neglected Dimension of Development Abstract Current thinking about development places individuals firmly at the centre of concern for analysis and policy. This paper explores why groups are important for individual welfare and social stability, and argues that horizontal inequalities (i.e. inequalities between culturally formed groups) is a very important but neglected dimension of development. Most attention is focussed on inequality between individuals. The paper recognises that groups are socially constructed and malleable, often with fluid membership. Nonetheless, group’s relative performance in economic, social and political dimensions is an important source of individual welfare and can cause serious political instability. This is illustrated by nine case studies, in which horizontal inequalities have led to a range of political disturbances, in some cases modified by state action to correct the inequalities. The paper concludes by pointing to an array of actions that can be taken to correct horizontal inequalities, arguing that such policies should form an important part of development strategy, but currently do not in either economic or political conditionality.
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2 Horizontal Inequalities: A Neglected Dimension of Development by Frances Stewart 1 I. Introduction Current thinking about development places individuals firmly at the centre of concern, the basic building block for analysis and policy. This is as true of the innovations led by Amartya Sen, which move us away from a focus purely on incomes to incorporate wider perspectives on well- being, as of the more traditional neo-classical welfare analysis which underpins most development policy. The present overriding concerns with reduced poverty and inequality, which stem from both types of analysis, are equally individual-focussed. The Millennium Development goals, for example, are concerned with the numbers of individuals in poverty in the world as a whole, not with who they are, or where they live. Measures of inequality relate to the ranking of individuals (or households) within a country (or sometimes the globe). The issues of poverty and inequality are, of course, extremely important, but they neglect a vital dimension of human well-being and of social stability: that is the group dimension. An intrinsic part of human life is group membership – in fact it is this that makes up the identity (or multiple identities) of individuals – their family affiliations, cultural affinities, and so on. As Gellner stated: there is a universal human need to ‘belong, to identify and hence to exclude’. (Gellner 1964) p149.
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This note was uploaded on 05/24/2011 for the course ECON 488 taught by Professor Brunton during the Spring '11 term at James Madison University.

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Frances-CRISE-wp - CRISE Working Paper Horizontal...

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