Perspectives on Global Development 2012

Social Cohesion in a Shifting World

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“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.   

English Also available in: French

Cross-cutting Policy Issues

OECD Development Centre

A social cohesion policy agenda requires co-ordinating actions across policy areas, in particular to ensure the integration of vulnerable and traditionally excluded groups. The challenges posed by shifting wealth to social cohesion through structural transformation and swings in factor prices also call for coherent action across policy domains. Quality education accessible for all, equal chances for women and men, food security and the integration of migrants are important cross-cutting areas which need to be incorporated into any social cohesion agenda. The current changes in the global economy offer the opportunity to address some long existing inequalities in these areas. This opportunity should not be wasted. A better integration of women into the economy, improved access to land, schools offering shared spaces and a better deal for immigrants in the fast-growing host countries will not only support a cohesive society but also contribute to sustained growth in the long run.

English Also available in: French

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