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

The Challenges for Social Cohesion in a Shifting World

OECD Development Centre

While bringing opportunities and resources to fuel a more inclusive growth process, shifting wealth poses a series of challenges and risks for the cohesiveness of societies. This chapter focuses on four distinctive areas. First, the processes of shifting wealth and globalisation have been accompanied by structural transformation in fast-growing economies with implications for social inclusion, social capital and social mobility. Second, shifting wealth has not necessarily been associated with sufficient employment creation, more formal jobs, or better gender outcomes. Third, the (re-)emergence of new growth poles has intensified both the pace of urbanisation and South-South migration, which exacerbates the challenges that social cohesion faces in integrating immigrants. Finally, by threatening food security, both the steep increase in food prices observed in the 2000s and the large land-purchases occurring in many developing countries – as fast growing, landscarce developing countries try to secure access to food – could also potentially compromise social cohesion.

English Also available in: French

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