Perspectives on Global Development 2012
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Perspectives on Global Development 2012

Social Cohesion in a Shifting World

"Shifting wealth" – a process that started in the 1990s and took off in the 2000s – has led to a completely new geography of growth driven by the economic rise of large developing countries, in particular China and India. The resulting re-configuration of the global economy will shape the political, economic and social agendas of international development as those of the converging and poor countries for the years to come.

This report analyses the impact of "Shifting wealth" on social cohesion, largely focusing on high-growth converging countries. A "cohesive" society works towards the well-being of all its members, creates a sense of belonging and fights against the marginalization within and between different groups of societies. The question this report asks is how does the structural transformation in converging economies affect their "social fabric", their sense of belonging or put generally their ability to peacefully manage collective action problems.

Recent events in well performing countries in the Arab world but also beyond such as in Thailand, China and India seem to suggest that economic growth, rising fiscal resources and improvements in education are not sufficient  to create cohesion; governments need to address social deficits and actively promote social cohesion if long-term development is to be sustainable.   

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Publication Date :
21 Nov 2011
DOI :
10.1787/persp_glob_dev-2012-en
 
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Inequality You do not have access to this content

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Author(s):
OECD
Pages :
93–123
DOI :
10.1787/persp_glob_dev-2012-8-en

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An equitable distribution of living standards is a central pillar of cohesive societies. Although shifting wealth has brightened the prospects for global income distribution, the transformation of the global economy raises key distributional challenges for social cohesion. A cohesive society reduces inequality between groups and ensures that all citizens – the poor, the middle-earners, and the rich – are socially included. Building a common understanding of what constitutes an adequate standard of living – and how to help those members of society who do not reach it – is an integral part of building a cohesive society. Understanding the complex interactions between opportunities, endowments, and market outcomes underlying distributional change is necessary to the establishment of a development strategy that takes into full account the specific needs and characteristics of a country. Education can help by addressing inequality of both outcomes and opportunities – raising the minimum level of education can offset inequality-increasing pressures originating from the structural changes that shifting wealth has brought with it. Preferences for redistribution as a means of reducing inequality differ from country to country and change over time – understanding how is an additional challenge for policy makers trying to build social cohesion.
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