Welcome to the South-South Global Thinkers e-discussion focusing on "Inequality in Human Development" to be held from 18 June to 12 July 2019.

The Human Development Report (HDR) 2019 will tackle the issue of inequality in human development and will focus on understanding the dimensions of inequality most important to people’s well-being, and what influence these dimensions. The report will go beyond income disparities and study other dimensions such as education, health, access to technologies, and exposure to climate-related and economic shocks. The Report aims for the most comprehensive global analysis of inequality in human development to date, built upon the longstanding leadership of Human Development Report Office (HDRO) in tracking development beyond income and a new Partnerships with global leaders in the field. The new HDR adapts and expands the human development framework to the analysis of inequalities. The main innovations will be:

  • A new framework of analysis that embraces the complexity of today’s world, able to identify new trends and forms of inequality.

  • The use of new sources of data and the assessment of the role of the Technological Revolution.

  • A policy-oriented analysis of the causes and consequences of inequality, leading to forward-looking action at the global and national levels.

This e-discussion seeks to address the different regional experiences and historical pathways that have created current patterns of inequalities by encouraging inputs and insights from Southern-based think tanks and NGO networks on the issue of inequality. In particular, the e-discussion will focus on the following questions:

  • What are the key challenges that place inequality as development priority in the global South?

  • What impact will current global trends have on existing inequality and what can be done to mitigate them?

  • What good practices in new data,policy interventions and innovations are available that can be shared within the framework of South-South learning and cooperation?

  • What are the challenges and opportunities of including Northern countries in triangular cooperation arrangements, considering the current patterns of inequality between and within countries?

The e-discussion will be moderated by Dr. Tanni Mukhopadhyay. Senior Researcher and Policy Specialist and Dr. Christina Lengfelder, Research Analyst at the Human Development Report Office, UNDP. The facilitation will be coordinated by UNOSSC. 

Contributions to the e-discussion will feed inputs to the HDR 2019. Additionally, a Consultation with Southern-based Think Tanks for the 2019 Human Development Report will be organized on July 18 2019 in New York during the High-level Political Forum. Select participants from each think tank network will be invited to attend this special consultation.

We look forward to your active participation in the e-discussion. To contribute in Spanish, please use this link


Comments (62)

Shams Banihani
Shams Banihani

Contributions by Prof. Junchao Wang, from Tsinghua University, Beijing

1. What are the key challenges that place inequality as development priority in the global South?

The new forms of inequality emerged from the complexity of the world in the present disruptive age. A variety of "new inequalities”, such as date inequality, media and information inequality, new technique inequality, and right of speech inequality, have heightened the "scissors movement of development" between developed and developing countries. The globe south must face the fact and have the full realization that the new forms of inequality are holding back their social development. Once the index system about new inequality be put into effect, the gap between developed and developing countries will increase apparently.

2. What impact will current global trends have on existing inequality and what can be done to mitigate them?

The existing inequality is constantly expanding. A widespread solution is that we need to define some concepts like "development" "poverty “and "inequality" again. A developed society not only mean economic development but also mean a world with multicultural literacy, To some extent, the core connotation of “new development” lies in elimination of the "new inequalities".

3. What good practices in new data, policy interventions and innovations are available that can be shared within the framework of South-South learning and cooperation?

Developing Countries should act quickly to embrace new technologies such as 5G in order to bring the "corner overtaking" result, which put forwarded and practiced by China.  It is inadvisable for South-South countries to follow in western's footsteps in technologies innovations, it will only lead to falling behind forever.

4. What are the challenges and opportunities of including Northern countries in triangular cooperation arrangements, considering the current patterns of inequality between and within countries?

Because of the globalization day by day which the international economy changes, the Triangular Cooperation will turn out to be the most popular cooperation model within the comprehensive framework of South-South in the future. The biggest challenge may be that it will weaken the cooperative enthusiasm between South-South countries, but it will bring forth new ideas, which will finally promote the cooperation within countries. 

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

Dear Colleagues,
Thank you for your thoughtful and engaging comments on this e-discussion, which has enriched and elaborated on several of the themes and topics that we are addressing for the HDR 2019 on Inequality.  We are drawing to a close of this e-discussion, and hope to follow up with several of you at the consultation on the sidelines of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development on 18 July 2019 in New York.  Your contributions have been extremely valuable and point to a wealth of knowledge and expertise that we are grateful to tap into. We particularly appreciated the links to additional resources, examples, case studies and data that you shared.  We hope to address these issues in our ongoing work for the HDR 2019, and look forward to your continued engagement in the time ahead.  Warm regards.

Ngu Wah Win
Ngu Wah Win

One puzzling observation about gender and inequality across Asia lies in the area of education and employment.   The ratio of females in secondary and tertiary education is higher than males in Myanmar and many other Asian economies.  Yet, women participation in labour force and employment rate can be lower than men.   Policy interventions sometimes failed to understand the underlying drivers of inequality outcomes and they can address the wrong causes to cure the problems.  Attending girls education, provision of scholarship opportunities to women, and affirmative measures for women in education sectors do not necessarily help balance the odds of women to land into quality jobs.  This is where more is needed to understand the underlying causes of inequality to address the consequence of it. 

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

Thanks for an important observation Ngu Wah WIn - it is true that while female enrollment in secondary and tertiary education has improved, this does not reflect in higher labour force participation rates - this is partly due to the informal nature of women's work, as well as the disproportionate burden of unpaid work on women, that takes up their time use.  And while efforts to boost education sector for female participation is indeed important, it does not take away the constraints that women face when it comes to the burden of household responsibilities, particularly for care work within families.  Unless there are normative shifts that enable a more equitable burden-sharing with males in households, females will remain obligated to conform to sterotypical expectations.  However, policies in the workplace that enable greater flexibility, greater family-friendly and parental leave policies can encourage women and men to take steps for more equitable burden sharing, as well as a supportive working environment. 

Manuel Glave
Manuel Glave

Dear colleagues:

I have reviewed with enthusiasm the concept note as well as the contributions in this e-discussion, and let me share some preliminary reactions to the debate based upon the four questions presented in the concept note:

i. Inequality as a development priority: 
The focus on poverty eradication and zero hunger as part of policy efforts to comply with development goals in the global south, has clearly overlooked the perverse dynamics of the different variations and dimensions of inequality. As it has been well documented, empirical evidence shows that despite the good performance of nations in terms of poverty reduction, as well as some levels of aggregate inequality reduction -in the form of lower Gini coefficients, there are various forms of persistent and even increasing inequalities based upon gender, ethnicity and regional and territorial uneven development. Among the main public policy constraints that have been raised in recent years are the challenges for a sustainable decentralization processes and the inability to efficiently implement intersectoral and multi-level public policies. Although there is no doubt that the global commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030 along with other global policies (like the NDCs based upon the 2015 Paris Environmental Accord), are an excellent opportunity to design a starting point toward sustained inequality reduction in its multiple dimensions, still there is not a clear road map to be successful in these global policy efforts. A very important step for the global development community to delineate this innovative road map is this articulation of SDG´ targets and indicators within a Human Development approach, but it faces strong methodological challenges, especially when the task is to design, estimate, use and monitor multidimensional indices. 

ii. Impact of current global trends and mitigation alternatives:
Unsustainable value chains, most of them in the agri-food systems sector, along with the inability to successfully identify policy options to adapt to global changes, are at the heart of the dynamics of global environmental degradation and persistent inequalities. It is imperative to develop an international learning platform for better land use policy tools based upon not only on science and technology but also on more accountable and transparent public management systems, with civil society actively engaged in public policy decision making processes. In this sense, innovative answers to global challenges have strong political dimensions, with an urge to find out institutional political reforms. From the Andean and Amazonia landscapes, it is of strategic importance to tackle the challenges for local peoples´ adaptation strategies in high mountains and rain forests ecosystems, as well as the need to appropriately integrate cultural diversity onto new territorial development interventions.

iii. Good practices to be shared within the framework of South-South learning and cooperation:
There are several areas of applied development policies for South – South cooperation, depending upon the specificities of particular countries and regions. I recommend to have a look at the set of knowledge products of the ELLA Program (Evidence and Lessons from Latin America), a UKAID funded research initiative, which tackle several policy issues on small scale farming, extractive industries, social programs, environmental public policies, pastoralism, publci policy transparency, domestic violence, among other issues, that were the basis of a rich exchange between Latin American and African development practitioners and researchers between 2010 and 2016. 

iv. Challenges and opportunities of including Northern countries in triangular cooperation arrangements:
User friendly meta data is a key ingredient for a standardized “distributional national accounts” systems. In this sense, there is an enormous potential for triangulation between Northern and Southern countries, with possible pilot cases for territorial development plans in various regions in the South. However, let´s keep in mind that this is a methodological for both set of countries.

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

Thank you for highlighting the important challenge of ensuring adequate and appropriate public service delivery mechanisms for reaching those groups at risk of being left behind due to uneven development.  It is true that the implementation of an effective decentralization process to deliver intersectoral and multi-level public policies remains a limitation across many countries and regions.  The link with unsustainable value chains in agribusiness is indeed costly from an environmental standpoint, and particularly in the Andean and Amazon regions.  Thanks also for pointing us to the ELLA program as resource for South South lessons learnt.  

Yiping Cai
Yiping Cai

Dear colleagues, it is my pleasure to participate this e-discussion. I have read the insightful comments in the last three weeks that covers the range of interlinked issues and from diverse perspectives around inequality in the in-depth way. Coming from a southern based feminist organization, I would like to focus on two topics that have already been tackled which may need further in-depth interrogation – inequality from the gender perspective, and redistribution justice to address the inequality, drawing the cases from Asia and the Pacific region.

Inequalities diminish the poverty reduction potential of economic growth. It usually hinders the fair distribution among social groups of the social or economic gains that can be collectively produced by the society or communities. Inequalities are anathema to the human rights, especially the economic rights that must be enjoyed by people everywhere and in whatever personal circumstances they might have.
Inequalities are indicators of deeper structural problems. From one side, they are the consequence of a system of production that subordinates the care and the wellbeing of people to the private accumulation of profits. On the other side, they are the consequence of a system of hierarchized power relations based not just on economics but on a host of historically long-held identities and characteristics, such as, gender, class, race, age, sexual orientation, caste, ethnicity, minority religions or nationalities, migrant workers, and abilities. These are hard and complex political issues that should be addressed around the inequalities debate. These structural problems should be challenged if we want to overcome the root causes of inequalities and not just the symptoms.
ESCAP report on Inequality in Asia and the Pacific (2018) shows that between the 1990s and 2010s, the market income Gini coefficient increased in four of the five most populous countries in the region, representing over 70 per cent of the Asia-Pacific population. China, for example, saw its income inequality soar by close to 10 percentage points, Indonesia’s rose by over 8 percentage points, and Bangladesh and India saw their levels increase by 4 and 5 percentage points respectively. 
ESCAP research shows that these increases come with enormous costs. In fact, estimates suggest that a 1 percentage point increase in the Gini coefficient reduces GDP per capita by, on average, US$154 for countries in the Asia-Pacific region. 
While the aggregate costs of inequality of outcome can be high, the impact of inequality is perhaps more corrosive at the individual or the household level. In fact, close to 153 million more people could have been lifted out of poverty in the Asia-Pacific region had inequality not increased in 10 countries in the past decade. More women could have been given the opportunity to attend school. It is striking to note that in many countries only 5 out of every 100 women from poor, rural households complete secondary education, compared with one out of two women in richer urban households. 
Moreover, some studies have even affirmed that social characteristics and categories of identities, exacerbate economic inequalities. For example, gender-based wage inequality was a stimulus to economic growth. Thus, it is important to break the "global race to the bottom" in terms of growing disparities of incomes, to ensure that structural inequalities among genders, race or migration status are not exploited as an incentive for profit generation. 

Just give you a couple of examples of structural inequalities from a gender perspective:
•    Inequality in distribution of productive assets within societies means that some economic actors like MNC's have control over resources such as land, technology, credits while others such as small women farmers don't. Moreover, in some cases small farmers and women have been displaced, risking their food security because of the expansion of agribusiness. 
•    Inequality in distribution of care and domestic work within societies is worsening girls and women opportunities to access to education and lifelong learning opportunities, paid work and equal wages. Global care chains also imply a "care drain" from developing to developed countries. 
•    The structure of constraint for women girls and LGBTI people to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights is a core element of gender inequality. SRHR is a basis for women's, girl's and LGBTI people’s bodily autonomy and social empowerment.   

When we talk about inequalities, we must talk about mal-distribution. Civil society organizations around the global South have developed transformative and redistributive framework that aims to reduce inequalities of wealth, power and resources between countries, between rich and poor and between men and women. For example, model of Development Justice by CSOs in AP region calls for five foundational shifts, namely Redistributive Justice, Economic Justice, Social Justice, Environmental Justice and Accountability to Peoples (2013 Bangkok). Pan-African Fight Inequality Alliance (FIA) lately issued a statement (Kitwe, June 2019) commits to fight inequality by: 
    Advocating for redistributive policies within African countries, which includes taxing the rich and tackling tax evasion. 
    Challenging the skewed distribution of land ownership across Africa, with a particular focus and commitment to securing African women’s land rights. 
    Fighting to dismantle capitalism by challenging policies that sustain neo-liberalism and promote an extractivist economy. 
    Calling on governments to reject the historical debt of African nations to the international financial institutions and recognize the social and environmental debts. 
    Calling on governments to put in place national budgets that prioritize the needs of women, persons living with disabilities, youths, indigenous groups and other marginalized groups.
ESCAP report concludes with powerful evidence that investment in education, social protection, urban planning and conservation of the environment are effective instruments for reducing inequalities. Other researches show that social protection policies, including access to health-care services, are central to closing the gaps in access to most opportunities, while also increasing prosperity, resilience and empowerment. Expanding social protection to low-income families through cash transfers, or other income-support mechanisms also tends to have strong multiplier effects, as these groups typically spend their extra income on domestic goods and services. However, this effort would only effective if it puts women’s rights and gender equality at the core (Cookson, 2018). 
DAWN’s recent research looks at the Equality, Quality and Accountability in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in three countries in Asia – China, India and Indonesia, especially its progress and challenges in reducing maternal mortality and family planning since ICPD in Cairo 1994 and in the context of fulfill the commitments on SDGs. The research shows that to address the multi-dimensional disadvantage and marginalization and inequalities requires the multi-pronged approach that pays attention to equality, quality and accountability. For example, The Chinese Government has made great efforts in achieving the MDG and SDG targets to increase access to reproductive health services by all throughout their life cycle, and to reduce urban-rural, regional and subgroup health inequalities. China’s MMR has decreased significantly over the last quarter of century. Meanwhile, there has been a steady decrease in the disparities of MMR between rural and urban areas. In 1990, women living in rural areas had a much higher maternal mortality ratio (112.5), compared with their urban counterparts(45.9). Even in 2005, the MMR in rural areas was almost 2.15 times that of urban areas. Since then, urban-rural disparities have been narrowing and the closing gap almost disappeared for some years. This was due primarily to a dramatic drop in rural maternal mortality and simultaneously a surprising lack of improvement in urban maternal mortality. The MMR was, respectively, 19.5 and 20.0 per 100,000 live births in urban and rural areas in 2016, with the urban-rural difference being almost negligible. Similarly, the MMR in under-developed provinces in western China show greater and rapider progress than that in more developed eastern provinces. 
How had this happened? And what has been to address the gaps and tackle the inequality in SRHR? What experience what China can share with other developing countries? We only outline some key drivers behind the continuous progress. Firstly, the declining trend of MMR has resulted largely from the China’s societal and economic development over the past four decades with rapid economic growth performance and impressive progress in rural poverty reduction. Secondly, universal health coverage (UHC) has become a powerful tool of providing basic health services for all, especially the poorest and most vulnerable people. Thirdly, focused interventions have played a pivotal role, for example, investment to the most disadvantaged groups and regions. Fourthly, a three-tier network of maternal and child healthcare established gradually since the 1950s has been consistently improved throughout the country, to ensure the accessibility and quality of the services. Fifthly, ongoing progress in gender equality and women’s empowerment enable women to have greater control over their reproductive lives. China’ experience may not be suitable for other countries. But the EQA framework would be a useful reference for policy formation when we talk about the comprehensive and holistic approach to address the inequalities in health and other social services. 

    Cecilia Alemany and Gita Sen, Advancing women’s rights and strengthening global governance: the synergies, in “Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2019” (http://dawnnet.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Spotlight_Innenteil_2019_…)
    From Inclusive to Just Development, Bangkok Civil Society Declaration, 23 August 2013
    The Pan-African Fight Inequality Alliance: Kitwe Declaration: Building Pan-African Solidarity, June 2019
    Tara Patricia Cookson, Unjust Conditions: Women’s Work and the Hidden Cost of Cash Transfer Programs, University of California Press, 2018
    ESCAP, Inequality in Asia and the Pacific in the Era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2018
    Equality, Quality and Accountability in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights – case studies on China, India and Indonesia, coordinated by DAWN, 2019 (forthcoming) 

Dr. Christina Lengfelder
Dr. Christina Lengfelder Moderator

Dear All, 
"Innovating South-South Cooperation" by University of Ottawa Press was just release this month (co-authored by our colleague Hany Besada). Here is a short overview of the book:
"In light of the rise of emerging powers, an important question is the extent to which the changing global order is transforming the nature of development cooperation. Promoting equitable broad-based economic growth leading to poverty alleviation requires new understanding of what constitutes development assistance, good governance,
transparency, ownership, and accountability.

The future of SSC depends on many factors, such as improved means of communication and sharing of knowledge among partner countries, adopting a more analytical approach to define regional and global public goods, identifying good and bad practices and evaluating them, and improving transparency, merging economic and social priorities.
Using a variety of case studies, this book provides novel approaches for furthering SSC on a global scale, to establish more effective public policies in the area of international development."


Shams Banihani
Shams Banihani

Contributions by Ms. Jiang Xiheng, Vice President (Deputy Director General) of China Center for International Knowledge on Development (CIKD):

I would like to sharing some thinking on the new industrialization and inequality.

We are in the era of a digitalizing world, access to digital technologies as well as people’s ability to adapt to the digitalizing world could reshuffle the inequality pattern. It could create new inequality or reduce existing inequality.

In my recent study trips to different Taobao villages in China, I was very much impressed by how some poverty stricken villages get rid of poverty through selling on line their farm products, handicraft or just live show of their daily life with distinct cultural features. The internet provided them with tens of thousands of buyers and paid audience. However,even in the city, old people without the ability to use smart phone, will find their life more and more inconvenient and difficult. Internet and the ability to use it becomes a key factor to reduce or enlarge inequality.

World Bank Development Report 2019 focuses on the changing nature of job and stressed that in the future their will be only two skills of human beings that will not be replaced by machines, the ability to learn throughout life and the ability to communicate with emotions. However, the potential to acquire these two abilities very much depend on the brain development of a person in the first 1000 days.

So I would suggest that when we discuss the inequalities in health and education, we need to place more attention to early childhood development, which includes brain development with right early childhood education and nutrition. When we discuss the access to technologies, we need to emphasize the internet access that could give people access to knowledge and market and enable those marginalized groups like to participate in the market through internet.

Dr. Christina Lengfelder
Dr. Christina Lengfelder Moderator

Yes, exactly! Thank you so much for this contribution that brilliantly connected several crucial areas of human development. HDR 2019 includes a comprehensive section on early childhood development, precisely because of what you are explaining in your contribution. On technology, there are similar experiences to the ones you are mentioning from the African region (see HDR 2015). The new technologies have high potential for lifting people out of poverty. However, policies need to make sure that these opportunities are available for everyone, including the elderly and women (as a comment from the Spanish speaking discussion highlighted). Skill development plays a crucial role in this. 

Andrea  Villarreal
Andrea Villarreal

Thanks for the opportunity to participate in this very important discussion. First, I would like to highlight the effort of improving previous measures to combat inequality on the HDR 2019. Considering new trends and forms of inequality reflects that we are adapting to new changes and challenges under a globalization framework.  With this being said, it is very important to acknowledge that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development needs a comprehensive vision of development in different contexts.

What are the key challenges that place inequality as a development priority in the global South?
Despite the efforts, Latin America remains the most unequal region in the world (ECLAC, 2017). As the HDR 2019 is considering, the notion of equality refers not only to equality of means, income or property. It also refers to equality of rights, to have equal opportunities for personal and professional development and to gender, ethnic, racial, sexual and territorial equality, amongst others.
The colonization process in the region created gaps amongst people that developed over time. These gaps restricted the full social and economic development of the territories. In particular, similar to Africa, in Latin America the key challenges are related to the high concentration of urban development, leaving behind the rural areas in terms of access to education, health, security, and other public goods and services. This situation creates an unequal environment that constraints public policy actions and efforts in the fight against inequality and poverty in all its forms and dimensions.
In addition, gender inequality is still a serious problem. Cultural paradigms and stereotypes take women and minority groups away from accessing the same opportunities and benefits. For example, in Ecuador being a young woman that belongs to a minority group reduces the possibilities of accessing many opportunities that other people can. I think it is crucial that the 2019 HDR understands that inequality can get worse because of the many situations that a person is exposed to. This includes environmental factors as well as the others mentioned previously.
Another example is related to climate change issues. People located in the lower socioeconomic quintiles are exposed to more vulnerabilities. Therefore, it is more difficult for them to take mitigation actions against climate change. 

According to UNDP (2018), by 2030 over 200 million people could be displaced, while more than 100 million people could fall back into extreme poverty as a consequence of climate change. In general, all countries and regions are experiencing the effects of climate change; nonetheless, there are people who are more vulnerable. Poverty and gender are key factors when analyzing the most vulnerable groups to climate change.

There are different reasons why poor people are more vulnerable to climate change. Some important factors that affect poor people in Ecuador are, firstly, they have a lower capacity to adapt to changing environments due to their limited financial resources and lack of information. Second, they have less access to good quality housing, in fact, many poor people either live in informal constructions that could be easily damaged by natural disasters or live in areas that are more exposed to natural events (Fernandez, Bucaram, Renteria, 2015). Third, climate change affects agriculture and food production. When the supply of food decreases the prices increase, making it harder for poor people to access basic products. Also, regarding agriculture, small scale and subsistence agriculture the means of income and subsistence of a significant part of the population, and these types of agriculture are the most affected by climate change (Ministerio del Ambiente, 2012). This situation is aggravated for women since more than 60% of the women that live on the rural areas work on agriculture and they need to find other sources of income or subsistence (PNUD, 2019). 

In this context, ​civil society organizations, South-South cooperation, and Triangular cooperation play a key important role. They can work at the local level with poor people and groups of women to create young leaders and participative agendas, provide information and build capacities on these groups to increase awareness of climate change as well as their ability to adapt to it.  

Jia Yu
Jia Yu

My comments as follows:

1) What are the key challenges that place inequality as development priority in the global South?

The countries in "global South" have different level of development, hence different challenges. In China, the inequality can be observed in rural vs urban, coastal vs. inland areas. The rapid development has led to higher level of income in all areas, but inequality has grown bigger. It is time for China to re-balance its development priorities in favor of disadvantaged areas and people. 

The technology progress provide a chance to narrow the gap, for example, the access to smart phone and internet by people in remote areas now have have chance to access the bigger markets for their products (through platforms like Alibaba). On the other hand, the trend of automation in the manufacturing will reduce the job opportunities of low skilled workers. Government has to provide training opportunities to such workers so they can maintain ability to work in new industries.

2) What impact will current global trends have on existing inequality and what can be done to mitigate them?

The globalization has benefited many developing countries in Asia through industrial relocation process (labor intensive manufacturing moved from more developed countries to developing countries with cheap labor). 

However, some other countries, mostly in Africa, have not benefited from globalization, rather, they experienced pre-mature de-industrialization. It is hoped that continued globalization would now bring more manufacturing capacity to Africa from countries like China, as next wave of industrial relocation. In this regard, the anti-globalization trend would be harmful to Africa. The world community should stand firm to further promote globalization and multilateralism.

At the same time, those countries that benefited from globalization should contribute to the development of other countries, in particular, African countries. China's Belt and Road Initiative can bring investment, technology and manufacturing capacity to developing countries.   

3) What good practices in new data,policy interventions and innovations are available that can be shared within the framework of South-South learning and cooperation?

The digital innovations have made such learning and sharing more effective. 

In particular, China can play a key role in South South learning and cooperation, given its achievement, experience and lessons learnt  during the last 40 years. One of most important lessons is in the area of environmental protection: China has gone through a process of "polluting fist and mitigation later", now other developing countries should avoid such a situation and embrace a sustainable development path, with deployment of low carbon and clean technologies.

4) What are the challenges and opportunities of including Northern countries in triangular cooperation arrangements, considering the current patterns of inequality between and within countries?

Northern counties have strong R&D capacity, but face challenges in higher labor cost, lack of supply chain and limited markets to commercialize their innovative products at affordable costs. Therefore, North-South cooperation can help to scale up innovative and clean technologies that can benefit the whole world.

Moreover, developed countries should also source more products from developing countries through industrial parks. One of such good example is the Hawassa industrial park in Ethiopia, where the World Bank has provided financing for the park, Chinese contractor has built the infrastructure, and a US firm has invested in garment manufacturing and contracted to market the products in the US and international markets. This has been a win-win-win model, that can be promoted in other countries. 

Shams Banihani
Shams Banihani

Thank you Jia Yu for your insights.  The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Ethiopia is definitely a good example to learn from.  SEZs can play an important role in addressing inequality as they attract FDI, develop and diversify exports, promote skills development, technology transfer, knowledge sharing and the generation of employment, thus ensuring dynamic economic benefits for structural change and improving the competitiveness of a country''s economy.  

However, their success is contingent on having legal certainty (clear laws, regulations and policies), institutional set-up (such as one-stop services for investors), financial incentives (ie. tax exemption) and infrastructure and utility services.  

Shams Banihani
Shams Banihani

Contributions on behalf of Dr. Ouedraogo Sayouba, Assistant Professor in Economic Sciences, University of Ouaga, and Senior Researcher at the Center for Studies, Documentation and Economic Social Research (CEDRES), Burkina Faso:

 1. What are the key challenges that place inequality as development priority in the global South?

Rising inequality is a moral, social and economic issue that impacts the global economy and affects prosperity and development. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the regions of the world where inequalities are most pronounced. 
Inequalities seem to be much higher at all income levels than anywhere else. While the growth of the last fifteen years has resulted in an increase in per capita income in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is disappointing to note that income inequality within and between countries has not decreased. In addition, inequalities between women and men have declined more slowly than in other regions. The high level of inequality undermines economic prosperity and development prospects in the region.

The theory of "runoff" seems ineffective in solving inequalities. Growth based on increased incomes cannot effectively and sustainably solve the problem of inequality and ensure sustainable and equitable human development. Inequality reduces economic growth, especially in democratic countries, especially for poor countries. Inequalities are driving up school drop-out, infant mortality, environmental destruction and social insecurity. Countries with higher inequality suffer from political instability. The root causes of inequalities are multifaceted and diverse. 

Inequalities are numerous in many areas. They are between rural and urban populations, between population groups (especially young people, women and children are marginalized) and between generations. In addition, there is the development of mobility that pushes young people to flee their countries where the failings of governance are pregnant.

Different levels are involved: life and health, personal and legal security, education and learning, financial security and work, participation, influence and ability to be heard, personal life and family. These different inequalities are dynamic and intensify over time. Disparities are increasing with the rapid development of technology; the constitution of networks or integration blocks. Inequalities increase inter and intra-state development gaps; the development of new diseases sometimes linked to food; extroverted consumption patterns, worsening poverty and the struggle for survival; economic mismanagement amplifying corruption, nepotism, clientelism; migration and the social divide. The important challenges of these inequities remain security (people and goods as well as living environment), health, education and learning. The main challenges that place inequality as a development priority in the South are:

A) Plurality and the contrasting evolution:  
Inequalities take a multi-faceted form through large income differences in cities, but also access to basic services, which remain problematic in rural areas. In the cities, the popular neighborhoods sometimes shelter real slums, where living conditions are very difficult, as in peri-urban areas. The contrast is striking with opulent neighborhoods, where luxury villas are the outward signs of wealth. Very different worlds thus coexist in African cities. In West Africa, however, the strongest inequalities are first and foremost spatial: between cities and the countryside. In urban areas, some of the rich money is used for goods and services that are offered by the less fortunate (such as guards, housekeepers, drivers, market traders, etc.). In the villages, on the other hand, the poor remain far from the places where the money circulates. Physical deprivation and the lack of basic public services mark daily life.
The quest for development would require African countries to promote balanced growth between the different sectors of activity and to encourage, by means of incentive policies, the sectors that have the greatest potential for job creation both in large cities and in cities. Regional hubs close to the countryside. Public action must also correct spatial inequalities that in fact correspond to inequalities at birth. Access to education and health for the children of poor households throughout the country is a powerful way to fight inequalities and unlock economic production potential. This implies having public resources and therefore a functioning tax system.
The system that feeds inequalities is both complex and vicious: the very strong collusion of politics with private interests’ means that the most privileged will be able to benefit from tax advantages. The ability to levy taxes on the highest wealth remains low.
Factors related to the political system can determine the concentration of wealth through corruption and bad governance.
The extent and evolution of inequalities in the region varies across countries.
-    In low-income countries and fragile states in the region, it is the infrastructure and human capital deficiencies and, to a lesser extent, the inequality between women and men and youth. Infrastructure and human capital deficiencies need to be addressed.
-         In middle-income countries in the region, it is rather public policies aimed directly at reducing inequalities. Indeed, it would be more beneficial from the point of view of economic growth to combat income inequalities, those between women and men and eliminate the infrastructure deficit.
-         In oil-exporting countries, the legal restrictions that prevent women from participating in economic life and the infrastructure deficit are the most important factors.

The potential of Africa is enormous: the existence of natural resources, the interest of investors, especially China; but also Europe and others; the numerous Youth, the entrepreneurial dynamic with the development of technologies, the SDGs. But risks generated by opportunities (conflicts, inter-community disorder, slowdown in global growth, international fluctuations, climate change, digital divide, underemployment and youth unemployment.

B) Conflicts and fragile context of the countries
The fragility of the context prevents the development of the private sector while the majority of jobs are created by this sector. In fragile contexts, the informal economy is dominant; the government is either absent, weak or unable to meet the needs of youth employment, or to support the development of the private sector. The latter does not invest in fragile situations and small and medium-sized enterprises are bankrupted because of clashes and conflicts.
The destructuring of states and societies remains the main factor of conflicts and crises. The poorest regions and populations pay the brunt of years of conflict, while a handful of people, both rebel leaders and leaders and their families, benefit from economic rents during the collapse of states. . Anything that weakens the legitimacy of political authorities and undermines the consolidation of public institutions. As a result, it contributes to the deepening of inequalities, which are therefore not likely to be countered by State intervention.

C) Low productivity and youth unemployment 
In Africa population growth means that the number of young people entering the labor market over the next decade will be more than the number of stable wage jobs that should be created. Youth unemployment and underemployment are influenced by the level of macroeconomic growth and the quality of that growth. Although Africa's share of world production has increased by 30%, its share of trade by more than a third, and its share of foreign direct investment in the world has doubled, this progress has not positive spin-offs. Most African countries are experiencing low productivity and low competitiveness among enterprises (formal and informal) in almost all sectors. This forces the creation of new productive jobs. These constraints apply to both urban and rural youth. Public jobs are more created in rich countries than in non-rich countries. Also, most wage jobs are created by the private sector. National governments have the primary responsibility to develop and protect law and order institutions, democratic accountability, fight corruption and strengthen the stability of government.
A youth-friendly job market should be considered, taking into account:
-    apprenticeships or vocational training;
-    creating sustainable jobs that protect the environment;
-    barriers and gender constraints in the labor market;
-    job creation in a context of fragile states;
-    culture, the role of school and politics.

D) Gender discrimination in the labor market 
Women are less involved in the labor market than men. With fewer years of schooling, social and cultural constraints, and customary land tenure systems that discriminate against women, the transition from school to work is even more difficult for girls than for girls. boys. Women are concentrated in low-wage and low-productivity sectors, often in informal and vulnerable jobs. Informal job networks put women at a disadvantage and reduce the productivity of suitable jobs. Occupational segregation, mobility constraints and transportation impede women's fulfillment.
Social norms about custody rights and the opportunity to be employed strongly shape women's participation in the labor market on the continent. Gender inequalities in employment and the quality of employment lead to gender disparities in access to social protection through employment (pensions, unemployment benefits or maternity protection)

E) The weak social relations of young people
The link between the training system and the professional world requires the necessary skills to get a job through social networks. Young people, especially poor families or rural areas, whose family members or friends are less likely to have wage jobs, have even more difficulty finding such information and, consequently, jobs. Informal networks of relationships are usually the source of information, but networks tend to reduce productivity.
In African countries, the weak development of human capital is a major constraint for young people finding informal employment. Governments and development partners need to invest more to necessarily improve access to quality education, vocational training, technology and markets for production, processing, logistics and marketing schemes. In addition, the persistence of the poor quality of public and private institutions further undermines the implementation of. 

F) The digital revolution
The digital revolution concentrates value in the financial system and in intellectual property. Moreover, with artificial intelligence, robotization, etc. a greater change in the value of work is a reality in the labor market. Windows of demographic opportunities (youth, urbanization), climatic (huge potential in renewable energies) and technological (frugal innovation) are offered to Africa. On the other hand, the digital divide is striking. African populations have low digital coverage, poor quality services offered at high prices. Yet digital technology is likely to generate more jobs and reduce inequalities between urban and rural areas, gaps in the financial field and become a powerful tool for vocational training.

G) The vision of inclusive growth 
The way to contain inequalities is to ensure that wealth creation involves all segments of the population. If growth is based on sectors with low levels of unskilled labor, such as in certain extractive industries, it favors mainly the holders of capital. Limiting the impact on inequalities will necessarily have to go through redistribution mechanisms organized by the state. The lack of involvement of the public authorities contributes to the aggravation of inequalities.
Southern countries have special conditions that characterize them:  
-    The potential of natural or mining resources is enormous; on the other hand, they are the poorest in the world. Thus, the possession of natural resources does not imply the improvement of the living conditions of the population; Otherwise, the technical resources and investment resources of these southern countries are low in order to be able to exploit and distribute the benefits of these resources to the population; The technological and communicational divide is obvious;
-    The exploitation of mineral resources requires tranquility in society and a peaceful environment. Yet the countries of the South are more subject to insecurity or conflicts of many kinds; the fight against insecurity is differentiated. Southern countries have the means to cope with insecurity assimilated to religious options. However, there is the logic of balkanization of the countries of the South with regard to the resources it holds and also to bad governance in these countries;
-    Conflict and the low quantity and quality of human capital combined with historical and cultural factors accentuate inequalities and poverty in society;
-    Inequalities affect more the young population and the female population. Children are de facto in a situation of reproduction of inequalities within countries. The worry is the transmission of inequalities of life between generations: a poor parent involves poor children!
-    The population of the South is too young and the future prospects are less clear; This youth of the population poses enormous challenges: communication, education, health, employment, food, housing and above all the non-holy living environment;
-    The level of political influence of young people is marginal. In fact, the public policies put in place do not meet the needs of this youth. Thus, she engages in migration at the cost of her life; increased mobility of young people from the South to the North will be accentuated despite the various means put in place to reduce migration;
-    Rapid urbanization implies the growth of cities where the grabbing of rural cultivable land. The reduction of the means of food production and the endowments of survival of the rural population are threatened. This challenge is important in view of population growth

H) Youth migration
The economic difficulties, the failures of the governance, the weakness of the human capital have repercussions on the living conditions of the populations, especially the young one. Thus, they emigrate to Western countries at the cost of their lives. Young people remain marginalized and inequalities are more pronounced in this segment of the population. The hope of migration is the improvement of the living conditions of future generations. Economic growth with the structural transformation of the economy should be required; decent work and income generation for young people and women; facilitated access to basic services including education and social protection and, above all, political empowerment. Political, cultural and economic elites are strategic partners for sustainable development. 

It is all the more urgent that governments prioritize measures that will have the greatest chance of unlocking the potential for growth and development and ending inequalities. Actions could be taken:
-    The important role of budgetary measures. Many of the tax systems in the region rely on tax exemptions and reduced rates for basic necessities, which reduces the potential return on value-added tax, while the revenue thus lost mainly benefits the better-off. . The poor devote a large proportion of their income to the purchase of necessities, but the rich generally spend more in absolute terms. This is why it is recommended to review the exemptions from the value-added tax (VAT), with a transformation of the expenditure policy into a more effective tool to fight against inequalities. The removal of fuel subsidies, which mainly benefit middle- and high-income households and their replacement by a system of targeted transfers to poor households would also contribute significantly to the reduction of inequalities.
-    Better access to financial services. The creation of credit bureaus that centralize information encourages banks to lend to new customers because they will have easier access to information about them. The use of mobile phones for banking transactions can open access to financial services for people living in outlying areas.
-    The removal of legal restrictions on the activity of women. Removing these restrictions where they exist would support growth. Indeed, it results in an increase in the activity rate and, consequently, a more vigorous economic growth.
Reducing inequalities would require actions in defense and security; the development of the digital economy (internet, ICT, etc.); access of the population to the right information; improvement of the business climate; decentralization and local governance; human capital development (health, education and training, research and innovation) of drinking water and sanitation, access to quality energy services and energy efficiency, improvement of the living environment; sustainable management of the environment.

The pillars of inequality reduction are:

- Investment in human capital (education, training, health, youth work, etc.);
- Redistribution (better taxation and social safety nets);
- Economic transition maximizing gains (entrepreneurship, efficiency / quality of services, more open democracies) and minimizing losses;
- The control of demographic dynamics;
- The development of the private sector by setting up a legal-administrative and institutional framework;
- Regional integration for increased competitiveness, fluidity of trade, trade openness;
-The creation and development of agro-food industries: improve production performance (production of rent and livestock);
- Local development: effective decentralization and effective local management. 

2. What impact will current global trends have on existing inequality and what can be done to mitigate them?

Current trends will have diverse impacts on inequality. The transformations of the world economy will result in the aggravation of inequalities in countries south of the Sahara:
-    The accentuation of the digital divide; the polarization of development is characterized by the development of artificial intelligence, robotization, digitization, excessive electronics in one part of the world. The other party will be lagging behind and will be a consumer market;
-    The transmission of intergenerational and intergenerational inequality;
-    A disruption and a bigger alteration in the world of work and the value of work will have to be redefined. Africa still has some chances to make a success, provided it is done quickly and to take advantage of the windows of demographic opportunities (youth, urbanization), climatic (huge potential in renewable energies) and technological (frugal innovation) available to them.
Social networks, ICTs improve communication, reduce distances and differences in living standards between urban and rural people. The rapid spread of discoveries and innovations is through the ICT channel. Vigorous actions are to be undertaken. The lagging economies will be increasingly marginalized because of competitiveness, with migration leading to the loss of labor forces.

The various policies must move more towards digitizing the economy to the large number, improve productivity, create more jobs for young people and fight against gender inequalities, develop agri-food industries and promote trade.

3. What good practices in new data, policy interventions and innovations are available that can be shared within the framework of South-South learning and cooperation?

Several indicators are used to measure inequalities: the Gini index; the Gini coefficient; the Lorenz curve; analysis based on percentiles, deciles or quintiles; the Atkinson index; the variance ; Theil's index; synthetic indices, etc.

Statistics suggest a decline in inequality; but the reduction of inequalities in rural areas is contrasted with an increase in the concentration of income as a result of inequalities in urban areas. Inequalities are micro, meso and macro. They are growing in urban areas. Inequalities are found in residential habitats, consumption; the level of education; sex, access to employment; economic regions; Socio-economic groups (public employees, formal private wage earners and non-formal private wage earners, the unemployed, the unemployed, the self-employed, fish farmers, cash crop producers, subordinate workers, and standard of living).

 The mobilization of social capital affects the inequalities of vulnerable groups (inactive people, women). Inequalities are partially seen. In fact, equal access to a social service hardly solves the problem of inequalities in health, education, social protection, work, etc. These inequalities are social processes based on age, gender, social class, economic and social institutions, culture, value system, social relations, psychological state, fertility, migration, composition household and beliefs.
In order to reduce inequalities, good practices include: the establishment of a security plan in fragile countries with cross-border authorization, the strengthening of South-South cultural cooperation, the creation of multinational projects regional, the creation of free trade zones, human rights structures and bodies; administrative development projects including a culture of moral probity, transparency / anti-corruption and fraud based on social values.

It is desirable that the data to be collected are micro, meso, macro and transnational. These collected data must make it possible to seize happiness. In addition, there is a need for more digital use in data collection and processing. These data will be available to think-thank and educational institutions.

4. What are the challenges and opportunities of including Northern countries in triangular cooperation arrangements, considering the current patterns of inequality between and within countries?

The logic of partnership and subsidiarity is a strategic cooperation. Accountability, transparency, civic culture, good governance, financial and technical support from the North are to be promoted. The solidarity of the countries of the country is to be valued.
Valorisation of research (collaboration between researchers from the public, private sector, NGOs, Government and Civil Society Organizations to exchange knowledge and ideas on how to achieve better links between research and inclusive development policies and equitable, taken into account in development policies); knowledge sharing and political dialogue are concerns.
Stimulating youth employment is needed: improving skills, digital jobs for young people; mentoring and apprenticeship programs, addressing gender constraints, strategies to strengthen the demand for the workforce. The priorities are the structure of the economy, the quality of the educational system and the fragility of conflicts. Moreover, the focus is to put in:
-    The security of territories and people;
-    Strengthening local institutions and local communities;
-    Promoting the role of the private sector in crises or fragile states;
-    The opportunities of formal and informal social networks and their financing in the economy;
-    Different ways of youth participation in global, regional and national political debates;
- Choosing young people and taking their voice in decisions.

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

Thank you for your very comprehensive overview of the main issues regarding inequality, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa - particularly the various types of inequalities that you have emphasised.  The visible disparities between life chances and opportunities as well as outcomes are a critical source of social discontent, whether these are in households, communities or between regions, urban and rural and beyond.  What would the salient forms of interventions entail in this regard?   What are the immediate drivers of inequalities, and what are the longer term structural drivers?  what synergies need to be established between interventions to ensure that the changes that occur at the local level are able to impact the higher levels of societal functioning, particularly those which can address environmental and intergenerational sustainability concerns?  Your comments are insightful in addressing some of these broader concerns.  

Shams Banihani
Shams Banihani

Contributions on behalf of Dr. Racha Ramadan, Associate Professor of Economics, Cairo University 

Understanding the Arab Puzzle Inequality

The Arab region is characterized by a Gini index averaging between 30-and 35, which may be considered as a low level of inequality. However, the uprisings of the 2010s in some of the Arab countries indicated perception of inequality and social injustice (Verme, 2014 and Ramadan et al, 2018). This was called “Arab Puzzle Inequality” by the World Bank (2015).

This puzzle may be explained by the monetary and non-monetary inequality between the different socio-economic groups. Ramadan et al (2018) found that Egypt and Tunisia, two countries that faced uprisings and instability, exhibit relatively high expenditure gaps across rural/urban and non-educated/educated groups.

Gender inequality hinders growth and restrain development in the Arab States. Women and girls face inequality in access to services and economic opportunities, this make them vulnerable to poverty, violence and health issues. During the last two decades; the gender gap in education was closed, however, this was not translated into a decrease of the gender gap in the labor market outcomes. Women in the Arab States have the lower female labor force participation Worldwide. The sub-indexes of the Global Gender Gap index (GGGI) show that the Arab States have the worst performance in the economic participation and opportunity index and in the political empowerment index. But when it comes to the educational attainment and health and survival indices, Arab States’ performance is relatively better.

Therefore, achieving the “full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value” (Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 8, target 8.5.) and “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” (SDG 5) by 2030, the gender gap in employment and political empowerment have to be reduced through empowering women, providing them with more flexible job opportunities that take into consideration the double burden of women inside and outside the household.

Further readings:
- Abu Ismail, K. and Ramadan, R. (2018) "Time to rethink inequality in Arab states". The Economic Research Forum Policy Portal- The Forum: https://theforum.erf.org.eg/2018/07/03/time-rethink-inequality-arab-sta
- Ramadan, R, V Hlasny and V Intini (2018) ‘Inter-group Expenditure Gaps in the Arab Region and their Determinants: Application to Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Tunisia’, Review of Income and Wealth.
- Verme, P (2014) ‘Facts and Perceptions of Inequality’, in Inside Inequality in the Arab Republic of Egypt: Facts and Perceptions across People, Time, and Space by P Verme, B Milanovic, S Al-Shawarby, S El Tawila, M Gadallah and A El-Majeed, World Bank.
- World Bank (2015) Inequality, Uprisings, and Conflict in the Arab World. 

Sarah Khan
Sarah Khan

Understanding the Growth-Inequality Story: As one of the largest Least developed countries (LDCs) the growth and inequality story of Bangladesh brings forth a harsh reflection. The country has been applauded by the global community for its secularly increasing economic growth rate which crossed 8% in the latest fiscal year. The rate of increase has been accelerating in the last five years. However, there has been reasonable doubt about whether benefits of the economic growth have been evenly distributed or not. A disaggregated look at data (from official sources) for the period of 2010-2016 depict a picture of accelerated increase in disparity. Manifestations of this trend is observed not only in case of economic dimensions of consumption, income and asset ownership, but also in the areas of employment, human asset and regional development. 
According to data from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, figures on Gini coefficient have increased across all three dimensions of consumption (32.1 to 32.4), income (.46 to .48) and wealth (.72 to .74) between 2010 and 2016. The Palma ratio, indicating the ratio of the richest 10 percent of the population's share of gross national income (GNI) divided by the poorest 40 percent's share, has also gone up from 2.5 to 2.93 during the same period. Finally, a review of the decile distribution of average household nominal income per month expose that the bottom 15 per cent households experienced a fall in nominal income whereas the top 15% experienced a rise. 
Although Bangladesh is often appreciated for its success in attaining relatively high human development outcomes, particularly in the areas of health and education a disaggregated look by income or wealth status reveals the wide variations that remain concealed within the national averages. The relatively well-off families are improving at a faster rate as indicated by the increase in mean absolute deviation from the national average on various indicators on health and education (e.g. child mortality, maternal mortality, prevalence of stunting, percentage of children attending school across different age cohorts etc). See The Uncomfortable Truth Recent Economic Growth Performance 
 of Bangladesh by Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, http://bids.org.bd/uploads/Seminar/Abdul%20Ghafur%20Memorial%20Lecture%… for a more comprehensive account of this issue.  
Now does the story of Bangladesh echo the realities in other comparable countries of the global South? The answer will definitely require deeper investigation based on national official data. However, a cursory look at some of the trends in inequality indicators in fellow LDCs may hint towards some idea.
Other relatively larger LDCs like Ethiopia and Tanzania who have, like Bangladesh, experienced improving or steady average economic growth over the last few years are found to have also experienced worsening of their inequality situation across Gini, Palma and Quintile ratios. Moreover, for both Ethiopia and Tanzania, despite improved HDI scores between 2015 and 2017, the inequality adjusted HDI scores have remained more or less the same.  
Curiously, the reverse also hold for some of Bangladesh’s fellow graduating LDCs (Angola, Bhutan, Nepal, Lao PDR, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands) for which data were available. These countries had a lower average economic growth rate during 2015-2018 than in 2010-2014. Interestingly enough, consumption inequality (as indicated by Gini) and income inequality (indicated by quintile ratio) have improved for these LDCs over the years.  
The experience is mixed for some of the LDCs who are also in the pipeline for graduation by 2024 like Bangladesh.  Kiribati, Vanuatu and Timor Leste had an average economic growth higher in 2015-2018 than in 2010-2014. Vanuatu experienced a worsening of inequality despite the high growth. On the other hand, both Kiribarti and Timor Leste’s growth were accompanied by reduction in inequality, albeit at a slower rate.
What do these trends really say about the growth-inequality coupling? A positive relationship? The story is definitely more complex than that. Any definite inference would require a much more rigorous econometric exercise to the least. A more pertinent question may be what really explains the phenomena? Is it the nature of the growth, the policy environment or other flanking measures?     What comes out strongly though is that it may not be the magnitude of the growth but rather the nature which influences the distributive process. This process is also underpinned by institutional factors, productivity growth issues and technological aspects.   
Finally the conceptual challenges of pursuing the issue of inequality in the Southern countries is aggravated by the challenge of unavailability of data at the required level of disaggregation. An exploration of unequal treatments of marginalised groups in Bangladesh has found that income or wealth status has not been the only criteria against which incidences of inequality occur. Other criteria, some on which individuals have no control over e.g. age, gender, race, ethnicity, and some on which they have limited control over e.g health. Education, employment status, geographic location etc., also contribute to bases on which they are discriminated against. It was evident that one or more of these criteria made an individual vulnerable to the point that their achievements across various SDG indicators fell below the national average. The findings were despite the poor situation of disaggregated data available on some if these vulnerable groups. Not being appropriately accounted for in national statistical systems is thus another big challenge in the realm of understanding inequality in the Southern countries (for a more comprehensive account on this issue see “Quest for Inclusive Transformation of Bangladesh: Who not to be Left Behind", https://cpd.org.bd/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Quest-for-inclusive-trans…).

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

The nature of growth and its (re)distributive process are central to the concerns of widening inequality, particularly for LDCs that are trying to escape abject poverty and focus on growth to the point that the growth figures improve but without delivering the resultant benefits to the vast majority, instead only benefitting the elite few.  This results in differentials in life chances and opportunities, that remain divergent even though all sections may experience some improvements, the relative gap between their ability to thrive remains.  The experience in Bangladesh is indeed illustrative of the achievements that are possible with a focus on getting vulnerable sections to a minimum threshold, with a recognition of the widening disparities between them and the top sections.  

Umme Shefa Rezbana
Umme Shefa Rezbana

Growth and inequality linkage: the issues of public expenditure and governance
In recent years, there has been a renewed interest among people in inequality and economic growth. However, inconclusive theories and evidence regarding the trade-off between inequality and growth are not a new phenomenon. Some say that inequality can propel growth, while some argue it is applicable for the richer countries. Many theories are also there supporting how high inequality hinders full realisation of human potential and reduces growth in poor countries. From a general point of view, it can be said that growth is associated positively with income inequality, even if it is for a short period of time. What is interesting here is to explore how the missing links, for instance, the non-income dimensions connect income inequality and economic growth.

Researchers have found that income inequality has a positive/negative relationship with the non-income dimensions such as with education, health, opportunity, and welfare. A study shows that escalation of per capita real GDP does not guarantee a reduction in income inequality, whereas investment in social infrastructure can be very instrumental in this case (The Daily Star, 2016). Another study discloses that a more equal distribution of education contributes significantly to reducing income inequality (Lee, J.-W. and H. Lee. 2018). Therefore, whether the countries with high growth are performing poorly in the non-income dimensions which could have mitigated the inequality needs to be explored. This has been explained in two particular way. First, there may be a lack of intersectoral balance. Disadvantaged people in countries with higher growth lag behind in capacity to claim their entitlement. Second, the lack of an explicit expression of demands. For instance, the lack of an effective accountability mechanism.

Let us take South Asia, for example. The region has been experiencing rapid economic growth in recent decades and being appreciated for firming up its lead as the fastest growing region. Along with the other parts of the world, the subcontinent is also a sufferer of income inequality. When compared, the GINI index shows (average of 2000-2017) scores between 32.8 and 39.3 among the seven countries except in Afghanistan.

Government expenditures (as% of GDP) for the basic public services, such as education and health are only 3.1% and 0.9% (average of eight years 2010-2017) respectively while Out of Pocket (OOP) expenditure remains 64.9% of total health expenditure (average of seven years 2010-2016). To be specific, the high growth rate is found in Bangladesh, India, Maldives and Pakistan among the South Asian countries. While economic growth in Bangladesh is identified as strong, public expenditure on education remains lowest in the country followed by Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Similarly, the unemployment rate is also high in Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka among the countries of the region. Bangladesh government spends lowest in health followed by Afghanistan, Pakistan and India while OOP expenditure, is the second highest in Bangladesh after Afghanistan, and followed by Pakistan and India.

Studies show that the region performs poorly in terms of opportunity while access to basic services is partial at best, and can be traced to characteristics at birth, including gender, location, and caste (Rama, Martin et al. 2015). In case of governance, the region has also been found to be performing weakly. Eight years (2010-2017) data (estimates) on governance dimensions reveal that, all eight countries get negative scores (meaning below average) in case of control of corruption, government effectiveness, political stability and absence of violence/terrorism, regulatory quality, rule of law  and voice and accountability except for Bhutan, Maldives and India in some cases. CPIA gender equality rating has dropped for Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan from 2010 to 2017 while Afghanistan and Pakistan performing below average during this period.

Apparently, it can be said that the countries with a high growth rate in South Asia are not having a reasonable impact on the non-income dimension of development. In between the growth and inequality partition, two issues come up in the discussion. Public expenditure in the social sector and public services are not adequate while the deprived ones cannot raise their voice towards their rights due to the absence of an effective institutional mechanism. Therefore, initiatives are needed to make the public service expenditure pro-poor and inclusive while ensuring an effective governance framework along with strengthened institutional mechanism.

Professor Sachin Chaturvedi
Professor Sachin Chaturvedi

SSC aims to create a world with reduced inequality, driven by a spirit of justice and solidarity. When discussing about inequality and human development, it is essential to look at inequality within a country (micro) but also among countries (macro). Looking at inequality at the micro level its multidimensional nature becomes known wherein inequality is beyond income. Similarly, at the macro level the thinking needs to go beyond redistribution of wealth and resources. Discussions on inequality need to consider the dimensions of ‘inequality in access’ and ‘inequality of opportunity’. When viewed through these dimensions, inequality becomes evident in terms of health, risk exposure, education which in turn affects the capacities of man, market and nation thereby affecting productivity and economic growth.
Developing countries today face the twin challenges of inequality and exclusion. When setting their national priorities and goals, countries should align the short and medium term targets with the long term goals and priorities of development – wherein countries may map their targets in line with the long term vision of the SDGs (beyond just SDG 10). Interdependence, multi-modal and cross-sectoral connects will play a crucial role in aligning seemingly disparate targets and overcome a silo-approach. A multi-pronged approach may include social sector spending, regular evaluation of programmes delivery and outcome, assessing impact of such programmes and plugging bottlenecks in tax and implementation systems. There is also a need to have a reliable source of data on inequality for better targeting of initiatives.
For instance, India has made some efforts in regard to access to healthcare for mothers and newborns through programmes like ‘Janini Suraksha Yojna’ aimed at giving access to a public health institution for deliveries to rural women along with a one-go cash entitlement to allow for antenatal care. Moreover the focus of inequality should take an equitable as opposed to an equalising approach. India’s Ayushman Bharat initiative in the health sector aims to provide access to adequate and reliable health insurance crucial to take preventive measures to ensure a healthy individual by averting impoverishment and improving human productivity. Real inclusive development aimed to overcome inequality will ensure access to resources.

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

Thank you for your observant comments - it is true that the concurrent challenges of inequality and exclusion serve to maintain social stratifications in deeply divided societies.  This has been addressed to some extent by policies that try to address the repercussions of such deprivations through targetted cash transfers and social protection interventions.  What we are concerned about is not just the floor but also the gradient of inequality - it is therefore not just to ensure that those at the bottom of the rung are not falling through, but that they have a chance at improving their life chances, at the very least intergenerationally.  This would require interventions across the life cycle, but also structural changes that are able to shift opportunities for large sections of the population.  The challenges posed by automation and digitalization in terms of employment prospects and the future of work are central to these concerns, especially if wages are considered one of the ways in which inequality is to be addressed.    


Thank you for the opportunity to discuss such an important issue. 

There are many studies and reports regarding the material aspect of inequality such as economic disparities, technological limitations, issues in access to quality health and education and income disparities amongst many others. There is no way to deny the importance of these elements in understanding the way inequality rises, sustains itself and ultimately becomes the “norm” in societies. It is very important to consider the aforementioned factors in trying to reduce inequality. However, I am wary of material solutions alone. I believe that material conditions need to be endowed with transformations and alterations in societal and communal value systems. 

Here, I do not mean that the South has to be like the West or vice versa, but I am referring to the cultural, societal and communal understanding of inequality. For example, is inequality seen as a “natural” phenomenon? In societies where inequality is increasingly viewed as acceptable, material solutions will be harder to execute and even if executed will not be sustainable in the end. Therefore, I would like to focus the discussion on an often-negated aspect of inequality – societal norms, beliefs and values. Working in the social development field, I notice that most often we neglect to take into consideration the role and power of societal norms, beliefs and values that contribute to either intensifying inequality or sustaining it. 

The organization and distribution of material goods or services such as technology, education or health, are influenced by the general belief systems of societies. Governments or states are not immune to these belief systems and especially in the Global South where these systems tend to be stronger; the fight against inequality and well-being of individuals becomes secondary to the “norms” of inequality. Therefore, a comprehensive global analysis of inequality in human development needs to take into consideration context specific values and norms and their role in driving, sustaining or solving inequality. 

Without delving into the full details of the impact of norms, values, beliefs on inequality, I would like to get the thought of other valuable discussants on this subject. 

Question for thought: Can inequality be understood without an exploration of the social norms, values and belief of societies? What sorts of norms changes can help reduce inequality? 

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

Thank you so much for the extremely relevant point you raise about the importance of norms - it is absolutely central to the discussion of inequality, and the tolerance that society has for levels of inequality.  This is particularly evident when we consider gender disparities, so much of which is rooted in norms, beliefs and practices about what is considered appropriate for men and women in terms of stereotypical expectations.  The role of progressive ideas rooted in the protection of rights that can change norms and behaviours is key in this regard.

Xiuli Xu
Xiuli Xu

Thanks for inviting me to contribute to the e-discussion on inequality, which would increasingly be one of the mostly heated debates in the mid-21 Century. It is meaningful not only within the global south, but also within the global north. To deal with the "extreme inequality” (“proper inequality“ has sometimes been seen as a stimulus for economic development) is regarded as a morally right, and political-economically wise thing to do for a sustainable global development. Since lots of debates have already been shed light on the "knowledge" about inequality, I would like to input some "solution" stories initiated at the grassroot level to reduce inequality. I am sure that such cases take place everyday around the corners of the world, and one of the important tasks of HDR2019 could be collecting these good practices and facilitating peer-to-peer sharing of these experiences to enhance mutual learning and understanding, which in return nurturing innovative ideas and solutions to deal with inequality challenges situated locally by nature. 

The first story I would like to share is from the China Development Research Foundation (CDRF), which is a national public foundation devoted to advancing China’s social and economic development and poverty alleviation. Using a framework of action aimed at improving social equity and human development, CDRF has implemented nine social programs on nutrition and education from a holistic life-cycle perspective. These include every sensitive stage from maternal conception to the completion of the secondary vocational education of the child. The mission is to help children in the bottom 20% move out of poverty and to reach the middle-income stratum by the time they enter adulthood. Through action, research, network and advocacy, anti-childhood poverty has now received high attention to block the inter-generational transmission of poverty. Essentially, inequality is particularly about the future of our children.

The second story I would like to share is about a small minority village in remoted Southwest part of China, Hebian Village. With the joint efforts of local government, local farmers, university professors, as well as the locally situated NGO, the livelihoods of local farmers have changed dramatically with new business industry development based on local resource endowment, infrastructure development, living environment improvement, nutrition and educational support for children in the village, as well as local governance capacity building. This group of villagers have long been trapped in deep poverty which hindered they benefit from the overall economic growth and social development. To mitigate the inequality, chronical poverty should be taken more into account. In this case, the role of the think tank should also be highlighted, as the whole comprehensive scheme for chronical poverty reduction originally came from intellectuals and think tank. Moreover, the think tank mobilized various resources to facilitate the process in inequality mitigation. In this sense, the think tank is also a do tank.

The third story I share here is about a decade-long project in Tanzania. Poverty and hunger still plague Tanzania despite a high overall economic development rate that has averaged 7% since the end of the 1990s. The poor performance of agricultural sector, along with the lack of agriculture-based economic structures with backward and forward linkages have been regarded as the key factors decoupling growth and poverty reduction. The research team from China Agricultural University has conducted meaningful trials in Tanzania, to test a community-based model that promotes local government performance to link farmers’ farming practices in order to promote low-capital-input technology package adoption. This model has proven to be effective in increasing small farmer’s productivity by 3 to 4 times in the 2 project villages, and now has been extended to over 1,000 households in the whole Morogoro Region. Small technology with big harvest. In this case, to reduce inequality covers peer-to-peer development experience sharing. Appropriate technology transfer and mutually adaptation between partners are extremely important in SSC and SSTC for reducing inequality.

More practices should be sorted out on poverty reduction and inequality alleviation. A data base for good cases should be established, and disseminated globally. Big data and machine learning, etc. can contribute to this as well. But most importantly, how to facilitate peer to peer sharing of these experiences to close gaps should be put at the center of SSC and SSTC for inequality reduction. 

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

Thank you for sharing the examples from China and Tanzania - these are indeed interesting cases that highlight the importance of having evidence-based policy interventions coordinated through a range of stakeholders' and participants' actions that can have a significant impact upon particularly vulnerable sections.  

Sarah H
Sarah H

I want to focus my contribution to this discussion on the global trend of the use of big data tools, including machine learning and artificial intelligence, that are increasingly driving economic activities and changing social structures and how these tools may maintain and exacerbate existing inequalities. 

A few examples demonstrate the extent of the proliferation of these tools - consumer predictive products such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, improving diagnosis through the use of medical algorithms, self-learning robotics for manufacturing, and data driven business models across a diversity of sectors from retail to tourism, to financial services. There is a great possibility to use these data technologies for pro-development aims – again several examples suffice – such as the formation of evidence backed policy, widening financial inclusion in rural areas through mobile banking, and flexible and fast logistics chains to identify and reach areas most affected by drought or famine. However, the potential of data-driven technologies is rife with nuance –What I am writing here is intended to be narrow description of some aspects of the current data regime and its potentially negative impacts on equality, but is not a statement on the value of these technologies writ large. 

Beyond the most obvious fact that there is great global inequality in access to technology and the education to use it effectively, there are three facets of data inequality that I would draw attention to – 1) The asymmetry of technology creators vs users with many leading firms coming from Northern countries; 2) The decisions over what data are collected, and thus, what inputs to algorithms will exist; and 3) The rules governing the data-sphere including concerns over data ownership, transmission, privacy and storage. 

Taken together, these three sources of potential inequality can unwittingly become a conduit for bias toward particular interests. This is not unique to data products - an analogy may be found in the pharmaceutical industry. In pharmaceuticals R+D can be concentrated into areas of interest to the most developed markets (think lifestyle drugs vs lifesaving drugs) and, when drugs are developed, can be limited by licensure and patent in their distribution. Although imperfect and contested, international agreements exist, and are continually disputed and reformed to regulate access to generic drug solutions.

However, when it comes to data products there are a number of important differences as well. For one, while software may be patentable in some jurisdictions, algorithms themselves rarely are. This may appear beneficial on the surface, but it also means that it is possible for companies to keep the ‘back end’ of their code secret and concentrate technological advances in the hands of private enterprises which need not be released publicly, even after an exclusionary period such as the 20 years for drug patents. In addition, many technologies are ‘borderless’- Whatsapp, WeChat or VK can operate in any country where users can access the internet.  However, the interests served by these enterprises may not be neutral for development in all cases. While the particulars depend on the type of technology, we can consider a few examples. The use of imported technology may displace the development of indigenous technologies and capabilities which could otherwise create jobs and growth in the developing country. This concern has been debated in the context of China’s successful technology innovators such as Huawei and Tencent. Another example is in the development of features and products that represent the concerns and interests of users in ‘primary’ Northern markets while the potential features that could create better solutions for ‘secondary’ Southern markets are never developed. Finally, we can consider the actual financial gain from these products. It is well understood that big data is big business – and in the case of advertising on platforms like Google which display localized results actually represent a payment from businesses in developing countries to the algorithm owners thereby enriching the predominantly Northern firms. 

Algorithms run on data. Aziza Zemrani posted in this forum about the need for econometric analysis and highlighted the desirability wide stakeholder involvement in data and indicator creation. However, as the example of social media networks alludes to, much of the data creation globally is conducted as a private sector activity. It is generated by search terms, user content, mobile phone location data, transactions and etc. How that information is spread, both in what is displayed to users and what is available to researchers and policymakers for econometric analysis, is mostly decided by the platforms and their algorithm creators. The scale of this data is much larger and more spontaneous than what can be generated through traditional tools like surveys and RCTs, however, it is rarely accessible for development purposes. Who owns data, where it is stored, and the obligations of the algorithms’ creators are relatively new areas of concern - In many cases policy makers even in the countries where these technologies originate may be unsure of how to approach these questions, as the recent inquiry in the USA into Facebook demonstrates.  

Ultimately, it isn’t just a question of the material profit and the gains accruing to the owners of algorithms it is also a concern about what problems are addressed and how data products and technologies are shaping our social world. The positive potential of big data technology is often highlighted, however, some aspects of the current global data regime exacerbate existing inequalities and this is a fruitful area for research and policy development. 

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

This is indeed a pressing issue - the impact of new technologies and the uses to which these are put, the content and direction of product development are all driven by incentives that are not linked to equity concerns but to private profits that go across national boundaries and yet impact on people's rights and privacy.  What kinds of regulatory processes can be tried remains to be seen, and the comparison to pharmaceuticals is indeed interesting and informative, both on the prospects but also the limitations.  Big data has both the potential and the inbuilt biases that you pointed out. 

André de Mello e Souza
André de Mello e Souza

Thank you for organizing such an important and timely discussion.  I would like to draw attention to one of the most perverse -- if often overlooked -- effects of inequality, namely, the undermining of democracy.  That democracy cannot work well under conditions of severe inequality had already been noted by Alexis de Tocqueville.   Highly unequal countries, such as my own, Brazil, even when formally democratic, tend to suffer from practices such as political clientelism, patronage and corruption.  The result is illiberal or 'ugly' democracies.  Globalization tends to reinforce certain kinds of inequality, and the perception of inequality. At a time when democracy is threatened by the rise of right-wing populism around the globe -- which is in itself an effect of inequality -- it is crucial to discuss how we can protect democratic regimes from tensions that arise from inequality.  

Prof. Milindo Chakrabarti
Prof. Milindo Chakrabarti

You are clear in hitting the target. I consider these as unequal access to political resources -- access to which helps in taking decisions regarding access to other resources  -- mostly, natural and economic, if not social.

Amanda  Lucey
Amanda Lucey

I couldn't agree more. In South Africa inequality remains pervasive, made worse by the mismanagement of municipal budgets, the continuous bail-out of state parastatals such as ESKOM, and our broader challenge of state capture. Even our schools suffer from the misuse of resources, and the lack of free junior/high education perpetuates this inequality further. While SSC embraces a multi-stakeholder approach, engagements remain predominantly government-government, meaning that SSC can reflect state-driven agendas rather than whole-of-society developmental issues. Triangular cooperation arrangements also tend to focus on state-driven agendas, with accountability only to those directly involved. Donors should also be accountable to their recipients, and projects should be conceived of on the basis of country priorities, not donor interests. What is crucial is to involve multiple stakeholders from the outset, and to adapt according to country context. Digital technologies offer new avenues of exploration, but these technologies need to be easily accessible and widely available. There should be limits on data costs (another major issue in South Africa which furthers inequality and limits opportunity), enhanced data access and there should be honest debates on responsible monitoring of the internet and cyber security.

Shams Banihani
Shams Banihani

Thank you Andre for you insights.  I do agree that corruption is one factor that is increasing income inequality.  The new BAPA+40 outcome document did mention that corruption and illicit financial flows are impeding economic development and deepening income inequality and thus impacting substantial development.  As such, it has called upon all countries to strengthen SSC and TrC efforts in this area by the sharing of best practices and polices to learn from.  

Adedeji Adeniran
Adedeji Adeniran

Two current global trends with likely significant effect on inequality in the global south are (1) Trade war and anti-globalization movement; (2) Climate change. 
The nationalist movement in many developed countries could curtain two important channels that have in the past reduced inequality across countries. First, migration and the resulting remittances have in the past contributed significantly to development finance. Second, ODA remains crucial in many developing countries, but the nationalist movement means less support for developing countries. On the global trade war, this could lead to change in international trading rules that will deny entry by middle and low-income countries into the developed countries markets. 
Climate change has been projected to have a devastating effect in the global south due to the absence of mitigating and adaptation mechanisms to absolve shocks. With the lack of efforts globally on this, the effect of climate change will no doubt widen the inequality in the global south and reverse the modest progress so far made on human development. 

Shams Banihani
Shams Banihani

Thank you Adedeji,  you are absolutely right.  Climate change is exacerbating inequalities, especially among countries that have least contributed to it.  Climate change is having a bigger impact especially among disadvantaged groups such as women, youth and people with disabilities.  A 2015 study projected that the average income in the poorest countries will decline 75% by 2100 compared to a world without warming.  Wealthier countries, on the other hand, are better-equipped to adapt to or shield themselves from a warming world thus not impacting their income in comparison with others. 

South-South cooperation should be further strengthened on this front to help address this growing issue.  The sharing of best practices and polices among countries of the South could be used as a mitigating factor for countries most impacted by climate change.  For example, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia are exchange knowledge on green economic polices and practices (http://www.unsouthsouth-galaxy.org/solution/partnership-for-action-on-g…). 

Adedeji Adeniran
Adedeji Adeniran

On the key challenges that place inequality as a development priority in the global south, the first important issue is the population dynamics, especially as it relates to youth bulge in Africa. The growing population in the African region means problems arising from inequality could exacerbate. For example, the pace of new job creation must exceed the pace of new entrants into the labour market to curb high youth unemployment.  In essence, youth bulge implies that present inequality could spiral into more socio-economic problems that could impact negatively on human development. 

The second important issue is that present economic and technological developments are providing the opportunity to mitigate the inequality challenges. Given the advantage that youths have in technology, it can be used as a leveller to mitigate inequality in opportunity. More importantly, this can lead to the creation of new industry and sector that can propel development or tackle decadence in the traditional sectors. The mobile technology has already made an impact in African countries like Kenya and Nigeria. Digital economy broadly can help in addressing the inequality problem in the global south. However, technology left unguided by public policy, will not resolve the inequality issue. Also, if the benefits from technology are not exploited, non-rivalry nature of such goods means someone somewhere will do so and capture the opportunity. This will mean less intergenerational mobility and more underdevelopment in the global south. Putting in place concerted efforts that allow youths and other vulnerable groups to capture this opportunity will, therefore, be crucial. In this regard, exploring the special trade zones, charter city, and use of fiscal incentive for infant industry could be explored. 

Adedeji Adeniran
Adedeji Adeniran

Thank you for the opportunity to share some regional experiences on the dimensions and drivers of inequality in human development from Africa. 
For Africa, income inequality has had the most significant effect on human development. The estimate by World Bank indicates that Nigeria, Congo and Ethiopia will be home to more than 180 million people that are extremely poor by 2030. This already indicates that SDG 1 is unlikely to be achieved in Africa without more proactive steps. In Nigeria, according to Oxfam, the combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men - $29.9 billion - could end extreme poverty. This therefore underscores the importance of this platform and the opportunity to discuss drivers and policy options to address in the challenges. 
Another important dimension relevant to Africa is the inequality in opportunities. This pervades access to jobs, education, spatial inequality, quality health, social protection, energy and other angles. In fact, it is fair to argue that inequality in opportunity is a key driver of inequality in outcomes as reflected in income inequality. The empirical evidence on Great Gatsby Curve illustrates that a similar trend is at play many even in the developed countries. However, for developing countries with a significant proportion of the population in poverty, lack of intergenerational mobility means inequality will widen overtime and therefore makes the attainment of human development more difficult. 
The third important dimension for many Africa countries is social upheaval as can be witnessed in poor governance, forced migration and violent conflicts in many countries. The greatest constraint to achieving Agenda 2030 /2063 and human development in the global south lies within the poor implementation of public policy. Public policy (education, health) are not pro-poor as they tend to favor urban areas and groups with dominance over public space. Even policies such as social protection and cash transfer that can be considered as pro-poor in nature have in many cases been used as a tool for a political settlement. In one recent analysis of  budget allocation for social protection, 40% of the allocation goes to non-poor inform of operation and administrative expenses. 

Hany  Besada
Hany Besada

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this very important and timely e-discussion. I reviewed the questions prepared for the e-discussion and prepared some general responses to them.

1. What are the key challenges that place inequality as development priority in the Global South? 

More than 1 billion people are still living in extreme poverty, and income inequality within and among many countries in the global South has been rising leading to: insecurity, disease, political and social conflicts. Unsustainable consumption and production patterns have resulted in huge economic and social costs and may endanger life on the planet. In terms of social development, large inequalities constrain life choices for individuals and perpetuate unequal economic and social opportunities, i.e., inequality of outcome translates into inequality of opportunity. Increasing inequalities are also detrimental to child development and cognitive consequences for children (Hoff and Pandey, 2014). Persistent inequalities increase the chances of lower development outcomes in health, including under-nutrition and stunting, and in education, including in school enrolment and learning outcomes.

Similarly, income inequality within and among many countries has been rising; which undermines prospects for inclusive growth, equal access to social protection, and broader sustainable development. This negatively affects aggregate demand, investments in health care and education, and sociopolitical and economic stability. Income inequality can threaten economic development, lowers the purchasing power of households, which contributes to the mounting of household, and national debt beyond sustainable levels (Raghuram, 2010). 

 2. What good practices in new data, policy interventions and innovations are available that can be shared within the framework of South-South learning and cooperation? 

Practices and policies for sustainable development that are inclusive and take special care of the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable are necessary. These strategies have to be action-oriented and collaborative, and adapt to different levels of development. They include;
•    Democratization in the management of public and private enterprises.
•    To minimize the types of consumption and production that have negative externalities, and simultaneously seeking to maximize the types of consumption and production that create positive externalities. Examples of minimizing negative externalities include reduction of environmental pollution, while examples of positive externalities include, for example, technology adaptation, reduction of food waste and enhanced energy efficiency. 
•    Technology adoption plays a major role in social-economic transformation. It also changes consumption patterns and lifestyles. Economic and financial incentives for the creation and adoption of new technologies are needed which may include innovative policy reforms.
•    Protection of climate and environment needs to be pursued as a universally shared goal.
•    The global relocation of manufacturing and services sectors means that appropriate technical regulation and social standards need to be adopted by the South. Therefore, there is need to develop technical, human resource and financial capacity to do the regulation.
•    Engage the nationals in foreign countries. 
•    Better management of capital flows and macroeconomic regulations and coherence between national development strategies and global decisions.
•     To attach greater importance to human rights, conflict prevention, good governance and reduction of inequality.
•    Inclusiveness is needed to take special care of the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.
•    Policies backed by research (UN., 2013).

3. What are the challenges and opportunities of including Northern countries in triangular cooperation arrangements, considering the current patterns of inequality between and within countries? 

Challenges: Insufficient market for goods and services, food insecurity, terrorism.
•    Much remains to be done in the education field. Although there is widespread access to education in most of the Global South, the main challenge continues to be the quality of education. There is need to focus on skills development and entrepreneurship that can be exploited for self-employment.
•    Rapid urbanization, especially in the south developing countries, calls for major changes in the way in which urban development is designed and managed, as well as substantial increases of public and private investments in urban infrastructure and services.
•    Energy needs are likely to remain unmet for hundreds of millions of house¬holds, unless significant progress in ensuring access to modern sustainable energy services is achieved
•    Weak health systems need to be strengthened with well-trained health officers and medicine. Several diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and cancer, are the leading causes of death in the region. These diseases disproportionately affects the poor, who have limited access to good doctors, lack the funds to pay for treatments, and do not have the possibility of taking time off to recover from the illness.
•    Financing facilities and trust funds to advance South-South cooperation and for addressing development challenges.
•    South-south led systems that honestly conduct in-depth evaluations and assessments of the quality and impact of the triangular cooperation programmes.
•    Transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on voluntary and mutually agreed terms.
•    The increase in debt levels in many countries of the  south and the need for borrowers and creditors to address the challenges linked to debt sustainability as a matter of priority if they are to prevent negative impact on long-term development and achieving the SDG

•    Aid inflows.
•    Trade liberalization has been one of the major policy recommendations promoted and adopted within the region as a tool for further growth and attraction of foreign direct investments. Countries have been active in expanding and deepening trade agreements among themselves and with countries in other regions of the world; they have significantly opened their economies to trade, investment, and capital flows.
•    Joint training programmes have been implemented in the fields of energy, environment, economic development policy, and disaster education. Other notable collaborations include co-financing the Climate Change Mitigation Program in Vietnam, an electronic cable extension project in Tanzania, and a road improvement project in Mozambique (Sato, 2018). This appears to be the main motivation for traditional donors to engage in triangular cooperation.
•    The utilization of existing networks: It is effective to utilize existing networks, which have been connecting countries and individuals based upon geographical locations and/or areas of common interest. Members of such networks already form bonds with each other regarding their common aims and foster mutual trust among themselves, which can provide a foundation for the formation of cooperative activities.
•    Adoption of sustainable energy 
•    Development assistance includes knowledge and experience sharing, technology transfers, in-kind contributions, cost-sharing arrangements, soft loans, credit lines and other innovations. (Kato and Honda, 2013).

Sato, J. (2018) Triangular Cooperation in East Asia: Challenges and Opportunities for Japanese Official Development Assistance, Emerging Economies and the Changing Dynamics of Development Cooperation, Institute of Development Studies Bulletin, Vol 49, No 3. 

Does Recipient Experience Count?’, in J. Sato and Y. Shimomura (eds), The Rise of Asian Donors: Japan’s Impact on the Evolution of Emerging Donors, Abingdon: Routledge

Hoff, K., and Pandey P. (2014). Belief systems and durable inequalities: an ex¬perimental investigation of Indian caste. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3351. Washington, D.C: World Bank. June.

Rajan, Raghuram (2010). Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

UN, (2013)World Economic and Social Survey 2013, Sustainable Development Challenges, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, New York

Kato H., and Honda S. (2013).Tackling Global challenges through Triangular Cooperation, Achieving Sustainable Development and Eradicating Poverty Through the Green Economy, Japan International Cooperation Agency Research Institute (JICA-RI)

Xiaolin Wang
Xiaolin Wang

I would like to highlight the challenges for Global South in the digital age.

The popularity of digital technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain has resulted in a rapid transformation in business models of economic activities and even modes of social interaction. Driven by digital Technologies, Northern countries have already realized ubiquitous interconnectivity. Such connections not only take place in manufacturing and commercial activities, but also penetration every aspect of social interactions. However, most countries in the Global South—except for some emerging economies taking the lead in digital Technologies— remain inactive digitally. Against the backdrop of a widening North-South digital divide, it becomes infinite vital to promote South-South cooperation in digital technologies and intelligent technologies and enable countries in the Global South to shift from a traditional economy to a platform Economy and share global digital dividends.

Challenges Faced by Developing Countries in the Development of Platform Economy includes:

1.Weak Digital Infrastructure. It is undeniable that middle-to-low-income countries lag behind in terms of digital infrastructure. The distribution of secure Internet servers and per capita GDP indicates that there is a huge gap between various countries in the number of computer servers, and least developed countries lag far behind developed nations in terms of digital infrastructure. The gap in digital infrastructure will definitely result in a digital divide and an inequality of digital dividends.

2.Insufficient Cognitive and Social-Emotional Human Capital
The digital economy and digital society have triggered the demand for human capital. In the era of the digital economy, robots will replace humans to do repetitive jobs on production lines, but a number of emerging service industries demand social and emotional skills and require labourers to have higher human capital. These new changes present new requirements for the sustainable development of developing countries, especially the least developed ones. Those countries must increase investment in education and the health of human capital, which is understood as an integral facet of South-South cooperation in the era of new technology.

3.Technological Inequality Increased Due to Inadequate Technology Transfer and Independent Innovation Capacity
Technological transfer as a factor in international cooperation, as well as independent innovation, are essential for a country’s technological progress. The development of digital technologies such as IoT, AI, robotics and blockchain further increases the requirement for technology transfer and innovation capacity. AI, for example, is a science, knowledge and technology-intensive industrial system involving computer vision, natural language processing, virtual assistance, advanced machine learning, automatic planning, and advanced computer games. At present, such revolutionary technological and innovation capacity exists in only a few countries. A key challenge ahead is that access to AI may widen the divide between countries, enterprises and workers. 

Shams Banihani
Shams Banihani

Thank you Prof. Wang for insights.  It is crucial that we mention the importance of digital economy to this topic. According to UNCTAD (2017) digital economy can provide a boost to competitiveness across all sectors, new opportunities for business and entrepreneurial activity, and new avenues for accessing overseas markets and participating in global e-value chains.  However as you mentioned there is a digital divide between Southern and Northern countries which is contributing to inequality.   SSC and TrC can provide an opportunity to Southern countries to develop digital capabilities to help reduce the digital divide.   The Global South must work together to foster closer ties, so as to collectively tap into the immense opportunity made available by the digital economy. For example, the China-Africa Network, which is a cross-border E-commerce platform, is promoting trade, investment, and cooperation between China and 18 African countries. 

Aline Rizzo
Aline Rizzo

Thank you for the opportunity to take part in this discussion. 

*One of the the key challenges in concern of inequalities is to equilibrate class, gender and race issues. In this sense, the intersectionality debates can be an important tool to work on "no one left behind" concept and its practice. There is no consensus about which one is the most important issue, considering the cleavage between class and indentity minority debates, but  it is necessary an approach that involves all inequalities features. 
Each country has its own experience and its historical impact of colonization, it also should be considered. For example, in Brazil the race factor is primordial to understand the poverty and economy inequalities. 

* In terms of global trends , it is a priority to accurately analyze the impacts of  current "trade war", notably between US and China. In this scenario, what is the role of southern countries in the new world trade configuration?  What kind of new insitutional arrangements will emerge? Is there new global governance patterns? 
In addition, the technological innovation that, involves artificial intelligence and humanoid robots, should be analyzed in terms of its  access and impacts on labour market, what means to examine the impacts on nequalities between and within countries. These all questions should be orient the debates on current global trends impact on inter and intra national inequalities. 

*From Brazilian experience, some initiatives should be highlighted as such as the Brazilian SDG Commission ( government ) and the Panel of Public Policies for Sustainable Development - 3PDS (civil society ). The Brazilian SDG Commission involves public and private actors and analyzes the SDG achieving from local reality. The Institute for Applied Economic Research, a governamental Think Tank, has been producing several studies and data analyzes on the SDG achievement . The 3PDS is  a really recent initiative and aim to produce infographics of Brazilian context from the SDG’s perspective, for example, the data sources of violence focusing on the SDG 16. These studies are published on social medias. Moreover, it is important to pointed out the Brazilian experience in South-South cooperation, specially in implemtation of Capacity Building profects, called Structuring Projects, that focus on the autonomy and institucional strengthening of the country partner. The Structuring Projects prioritizes the agricultural, health and education sector. However, is important to say the investment in Brazilian South-South cooperation has aecreased due the internal economic and political instability. 
*The triangular cooperation arragements it is a excellent opportunity to face the inequalities between and within countries, as long as it  consider the recipient country autonomy and focus on the Capacity Building for a real sustainable development.

Dr. Christina Lengfelder
Dr. Christina Lengfelder Moderator

Tanni was already talking about group-based inequalities, also often called horizontal inequalities. Those can be inequalities based on cultural identities, ethnicity, race, disability etc. Assessing these inequalities quantitatively is quite challenging due to a lack of comprehensive data bases. If anybody is aware of good quality data on group-based inequality in your country or region, a comment on that would be very much appreciated!

Omar Al-Ubaydli
Omar Al-Ubaydli

I believe that a significant component of the frustration that inequality causes in the South can be attributed to the dominance of the government sector in labor markets, and in economic success more generally.

When the government dominates the economy, and its income (taxation) is determined largely independently of its activities, then this creates a situation where the government is able to decide who is rich/powerful and who is not, through its decisions on tenders, on public sector jobs, and on senior positions in the government. This makes ordinary people who end up with the less favorable outcomes feel that they are being unfairly denied, making inequality more like to be destabilizing.

In contrast, when the private sector dominates the economy, an organization's revenues are much more closely tied to its activities, enhancing the incentive to hire based on merit and productivity. While this is definitely not absolute, it is certainly more pronounced than in a situation where the government dominates economic activity. As a result, people are more likely to attribute unequal outcomes to unequal effort, or to unequal natural abilities; rather than to unequal political connectedness or capricious policymaking. This reduces the pressure caused by inequality.

There is a large scientific literature supporting the view that people are much more tolerant of inequality when they feel that it reflects unequal abilities/effort (and therefore merit) vis-a-vis luck or nepotism. See, for example, this paper:


As I mentioned at the start, countries in the South typically have economies that are more dominated by the government, inflaming and accentuating the adverse consequences of inequality. This dynamic is reinforced by endemic corruption, which serves to confirm the view that unfair means are used to secure economic privilege.

What does this imply for policy and analysis more generally? In my opinion, there are two takeaways.

First, this serves as an added incentive to roll back the government's domination of the economy in developing countries. Typically, efficiency and growth considerations are cited; based on the above, we can add that a vibrant private sector also makes people more tolerant of inequality, as they perceive it to be more just.

Second, when researchers gather data relating to inequality, such as the distribution of income or wealth, they should also strive to gather complementary data regarding people's attitudes toward that inequality. Sometimes, a small amount of inequality may be regarded as unacceptable, while a large amount of inequality might be regarded as completely acceptable, depending on perceptions regarding its underlying causes. In other words, our efforts to counter inequality are likely to be more effective if they are tailored to perceptions and underlying causes.

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

Thank you for your comment - yes, it is true that patronage and rentseeking in many countries tend to entrench elites in power and perpetuate inequalities.  However, the challenge is to ensure that the institutions we have - whether they are political or economic, private or public, are able to provide a fair chance and opportunities to the largest sections. Some level of inequalities are dependent on individual effort and can be considered outcomes of merit-based returns.  However, it is increasingly clear that the emerging trends of glaring inequality are not being driven by rising wages but by returns to capital and increasing financialization.  In such a context, the perception of the market an an efficient mechanism to allocate resources and returns does not hold, and the levels of inequality are not anchored in any merit-based system that can be justified as fair.  This also overlooks the role of privilege, of networks, and of having a head start in life with quality education, health and stable familial structures, are able to provide.  For those who are not endowed with those attributes from birth, the challenge of having a fair shot at success is undermined and weakened from the outset.  In particular, for those who have several disadvantaged characteristics that overlap - of poverty, disability, ethnic/racial/persecuted identity or gender, these disadvantages can accumulate over a lifeltime resulting in very different levels of capabilities and human development.  A private sector that is efficient, open and accessible to the widest sections can enable a more balanced distribution of resources, but not if it becomes captured by a small elite who are able to use the leverage they command towards greater personal accumulation at the cost of the larger body of workers and middle classes.       

Omar Al-Ubaydli
Omar Al-Ubaydli

Tanni Mukhopadhyay I disagree that the market is unable to deliver stable levels of inequality; while there is lots of interesting evidence to the contrary, some of which you allude to, it is far from a settled issue. For example, in many advanced economies, the ability of the rich to get ahead and stay ahead is to a significant degree attributable to their ability to practice forms of crony capitalism, and to evade taxes, rather than due to any innate deficiencies in the capitalist system.
Nevertheless, I believe that the whatever angst about inequality exists in advanced, capitalist economies is several orders of magnitude less than that in developing ones, where patronage and other forms of corruption breed very high levels of sociopolitical instability. As such, as a citizen of South country, I think that it would be in the interests of South countries to arrive at the inequity problems of Northern ones and then develop institutions to deal with them, rather than dwell on both solving the major inequity problem (the one caused by corruption and government dominance in developing countries) and the minor (in comparison, but still significant) one that exists in richer countries both in one go.

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

Omar Al-Ubaydli Would you consider the increasing inequalities in Southern countries to be independent of the trends and developments in the advanced economies, or is there a link between the way the economies are increasingly interlinked in the era of globalization?  I want to clarify whether you think the issue of inequality in the South is a more pressing one due to the nature of corruption and capture and is of a much greater concern than increasing inequality due to crony capitalism and tax avoidance in the North.  If so, what should be done about it?  What are the key policy issues that you would press for?

Omar Al-Ubaydli
Omar Al-Ubaydli

Tanni Mukhopadhyay I think that within the South, the biggest source of inequality is the ineffective economic systems operating, with a central driver being the domination of the government over economic activity. There are additional factors that contribute, including those that you mention, but the basic problem is that the government makes itself a gatekeeper for economic activity, and then corruptly distributes the key to that gate. This takes many forms, most saliently the endless bureaucracy that you have to go through to initiate a business, to hire people, to comply with regulations, and so on, because those in power abuse it by creating regulatory fiefdoms. An extreme illustration is the North. vs. South Korea divide, though obviously that case has many specific attributes, too.
The solution is not some crude, wholesale liberalization. It needs to be done gradually, intelligently, and by people with sound intentions. But empirically, throughout the last 100 years, the biggest reason for income growth among the poorest citizens in society across the entire world is unleashing the benefits of capitalism, rather than any sort of crude redistributive taxation and spending. China is an excellent illustration of this - when the economy was overly controlled and mismanaged, people were destitute. Once the government began to intelligently liberalize, we had the biggest and most successful anti-poverty initiative in the history of the world.

André de Mello e Souza
André de Mello e Souza

Omar Al-Ubaydli , free markets work very well in contexts of relative equality, such as those seen in North America, Europe and some Asian countries.  However, they are uncapable of delivering satisfactory development outcomes in contexts of severe inequality, such as in Latin America or Africa.  Surely government interventionism has been desastrous in many countries, for reasons already mentioned here.  In others, such as many Asian countries, developmentalist governments performed very well. But in my view the discussion should focus on the quality of institutions (or governance).  Ultimately, it is these institutions -- and the structure of incentives that they present -- that will fail or succeed in making governments and companies drivers of development.  And it is also in institutional building and capacitation that international development cooperation can make the most difference.  For instance, Brazil applies the concept of 'structuring' cooperation, already mentioned here by Aline Rizzo, in adopting holistic, long-term projects of institutional building and capacitation.  This has been most clearly seen in the area of health, where Brazilian cooperation seeks to generate fundamental change in the health systems of partner countries.  

Omar Al-Ubaydli
Omar Al-Ubaydli

André de Mello e Souza thank you for your comments and I largely agree; I am definitely not proposing full-blown liberalization. I am arguing against the opposite extreme of strong government intervention, especially in the context of labor markets, such as when the public sector hires large numbers of people.
I 100% agree that intelligent government intervention - as has happened in several Asian states over the last 70 years - can be very positive. However, I think that few would content my view that large scale public sector hiring is damaging to the economy, and damaging to inequality.

Xiaojun Grace Wang
Xiaojun Grace Wang

What are the challenges and opportunities of including Northern countries in triangular cooperation arrangements, considering the current patterns of inequality between and within countries?

This is a very timely question. The UN GA has recently adopted the Outcome Document of the Second UN High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40), which calls upon Member States for increased use of triangular cooperation. It recognizes that triangular cooperation, involving developed countries and international organization, allows the mobilization of additional resources, knowledge and expertise to foster strong
partnerships to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

It has been a common understanding that SSC is to promote sharing of most relevant knowledge and experiences. For poverty eradication, it is understood that the experience of developing countries seem to be more recent and more adaptable to each others' contexts given the similar challenges. However, if we think about inequality, the developed countries are now also facing new and serious challenges in addressing enlarging inequality gaps. We hope through triangular cooperation, we can promote true MUTUAL learning, South-South, North-South and even South-North learning to address inequality challenges in all the countries engaged. One example of South-North learning was how the Conditional Cash Transfer experiences in Latin America countries had inspired the Family Rewards programme in NYC. 

Just to kick start and invite your views on this subject. More to follow...

André de Mello e Souza
André de Mello e Souza

I totally agree, Grace.  The most unequal countries are still countries from the South (primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America).  Northern countries display relatively lower measures of inequality.  Nevertheless, inequality in the US and other high-income countries is rising, exacerbated by globalization, and the experience of developing countries can point toward the most effective policies to confront this challenge.  Southern countries dispose of fewer financial resources, but can contribute with policy-relevant knowledge in triangular and South-North development cooperation schemes.  The cash transfer programs you mentioned were successful in Brazil and elsewhere in the region.  The "Bolsa Família" is highly cost-effective, in that it uses only about 1% of the federal government budget and creates economic dynamism in Brazil's most backward areas.  Hence, it more than pays for itself.  While resources come from the federal government, they are channeled via municipalities in a descentralized system.  Beneficiary families also need to comply with conditionalities in education (school attendance of youth) and health (visits to local ambulatories and physicians).  While they do not promote structural transformations needed for large-scale poverty reduction -- such as those in education and income -- cash transfers offer the most vulnerable segments of the population opportunities to overcome the poverty trap, and a chance of a better future by promoting their education and health.

Shams Banihani
Shams Banihani


1.    Key challenges in inequality as development priority could be seen as just social, economic, environment, resources sources are not enough to meet increasingly  social demands
2.    Impact is clearly seen in this case that prevention to access and use fairly and effectively to natural/human/legislative/institution / international assistance  resources or relevant services as well as sharing/contributing obtained profits/ benefits. Then to mitigate these impacts, every step, stage in public, social and private services must be published. supervised, monitored, reviewed by multi sectors. Right and function of every sector and stakeholders must be ensured and implemented.
3.    Good practices in new data, policy and innovation that is shared, learned in  framework of S-S Cooperation. This is an interesting topic. In fact, there are differences in institution, policy, legal, cultural/social structure in the south countries. Even if, this is also occurred in a country. Therefore,  Good practices in new data, policy and innovation should is shared, discussed, learned and applied but leader in every country has analysis to understand  their country situation correctly and recognize  their position in global map to find suitable step/solution/approach,/strategy/plan for future. Under globalization, inequality is not come from within but also comes from outside. And S-S Cooperation. is needed
4.    Challenges and opportunity in triangular cooperation.Challenges is high competence and clear responsibility as well as stronger commitment but opportunity  Gaps will be bridged and triangular cooperation toward planet and global human well-being instead of  single country/territory/ regional or particular people groups

aziza zemrani
aziza zemrani

I totally agree with the point number one which somehow is aligned with my humble contribution and related to public policy. If a policy is not backed with a resource allocation, all that talk is symbolic but no outcome to be expected. Resource allocation and budgeting approach or budget format used by any country or organization is a critical element in the assessment and evaluation of all strategies put in place for the closing the gap in inequality.
Gender inequality is still vivid in all reports and despite the fact we create a "budgeting for gender", the evidence is there to show that the gap is not quite closed minimized yes but still a lot of work.

Shams Banihani
Shams Banihani

Inputs by Prof. Aziza Zemrani, Associate chair/Professor  -  University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 

I have been contemplating the e-discussion for a week now and read all documents provided to be able to address holistically the guiding questions. I enjoyed reading the first post that was articulated around the technological changes and how they will impact more the inequality gap.

From my perspective, and as a pracademic, the inequality needs to be addressed from a holistic approach but the measurement of all indicators that make the HDI and all indices is a major challenge given the level of uncertainty happening at all levels whether social, political, economic….

The complex environment make it a great venue for research, mostly empirical to see which indicators are most likely to impact the HDI and how these inequalities can be minimized. This is of course using a more advanced econometric modeling to see what actions need to be taken to either improving or at least keeping the positive trend on track (evidence is there to show some countries scores dropped down).

Looking at the different iterations of the HDI over the years, it is quite clear that because of the complexity of issues impacting the world, different indices were developed from HDI, MPI, HDI, GII, GDI and still differences and gaps remain unsolved and the statistical data quite alarming for the 21 century.

I am contemplating this discussion and reflecting on the provided questions but quite puzzled as how much contribution through this discussion. Looking at the data and despite the improvements in some areas, and at the same time decline in others is alarming and there is the old saying « what gets measured gets done » but at the pace of increase in migration, immigration, and political instability.

As an academic in a public policy and public administration department, I foresee this as a venue for real world projects for our master students to bring fresh perspectives in using data analytics which standard number now in being developed to assess and evaluate the students pursuing that degree. One approach or framework to be used is the Design Thinking and that can help move the discussion forward. Data driven decisions is critical and the only way to move forward for best practices and followed by sound policies. Different approaches to data collection and composites indices have been developed and improved but these should be aligned with policies and all stakeholders’ involvement. In resources allocation through budgeting, different theories have been provided but with no engagement from all constituents, it is hard to move forward and see the ideal improvement or expected improvement in the HDI. For example, Gender inequality needs to be addressed from holistic perspective. As a researcher in Budgeting, one approach was to Budget for Gender. Other budget approaches for social policies need to be addressed.

This e-discussion needs to be as a roundtable with a facilitator and different participants from a multidisciplinary background to help move the conversation forward.

To recapitulate, the new framework of analysis that embraces the complexity of today’s world, with the ability to identify new trends and forms of inequality proposed is design thinking along with stakeholders engagement framework. The use of new sources of data and the assessment of the role of the Technological Revolution. A policy-oriented analysis of the causes and consequences of inequality, leading to forward-looking action at the global and national levels.

In addition to the above discussion, I see that including Northern countries in triangular cooperation arrangements, considering the current patterns of inequality between and within countries can somewhat help but engagement of all stakeholders is key but a research is to be done and conversation started already but more to be done in this area. ?

Shagufta Ahmad
Shagufta Ahmad

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the immensely important topic of inequality in the world today. It is indeed unfortunate that almost 3 decades into the human development discourse, the trajectory of human well-being is seriously stunted by pervasive inequality, or more accurately, inequity. The latter is founded on the concept of fairness and justice recognizing that we are all not “the same” and may not have equal needs. We do however desire the same results – a dignified and valued existence, where everyone has equal access to opportunities and the ability to avail them to achieve their full potential without causing harm to the environment.
The inequality debate is complex and has many components. The dimensions of wealth, gender and race inequality stand out as the most evident. Although genuine strides are being made in the context of the 2030 agenda, much needs to be done at the more fundamental level by addressing the drivers of inequality. Since the human being is at the center of the human development effort, any attempt to address systemic issues must have a holistic approach that addresses root causes. 
Oxfam’s latest reports state that the world’s top 26 billionaires own the same wealth as half of the world’s population. Research is needed to understand the structural flaws in our global economic systems that allow for this unequal concentration. The gender and race gaps need a focus on education to eliminate deep rooted historical, cultural and societal causes that perpetuate inequality. Education access to people with special needs is another area of concern. It will be important in terms of statistical indices, to use the World Bank’s more comprehensive Human Opportunity Index (HOI) instead of the traditional HDI which only measures health, education and income to measure human development.
According to a 2016 UNESCO report, social and economic inequalities remain among the most pressing developmental issues for the Arab region. However, the popular global North narrative of denial of basic social rights in the region needs to be challenged and more indigenous global South viewpoints need to emerge. Furthermore, research data related to female unemployment needs to be interpreted correctly vis-à-vis the parenting dimension. GDP and unemployment rates need to be rethought and re-calculated to include female unpaid work including child bearing and rearing. The issue of differential rights associated with citizenship needs to be addressed by introducing policies on expatriate integration. 
Above all, the inequality debate needs to premise on the concept of global citizenship and employ courage and commitment to remove the barriers to human development where no one is left behind.

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

Thank you Shagufta, for your comments. I was curious to understand more about the indigenous global South viewpoint that would counter the narrative of the global North regarding the Arab region.  Do you think that the current mainstream perspectives do not adequately recognize those voices that are speaking from the region regarding social and economic rights, or that there is an exercise of power that is centred in the North that undermines those voices?  How does inequality between the privileged and the deprived manifest itself within and between countries?

Prof. Milindo Chakrabarti
Prof. Milindo Chakrabarti

Economists, for quite some time, believed that a dash of inequality in the system contributes to its efficiency. Thus efforts to reduce inequality were considered secondary to the primary objective of enhancing efficiency in an economy. The criteria devised by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for evaluating a development programme looked for its contribution to “efficiency” and failed to capture “equity” as a potent criterion for evaluative purposes. The lack of concern for considering “equity” as an evaluative criterion in development design has, perhaps, contributed to rising inequality, not only among nations, but also within countries. The criteria of “impact” used by DAC may be used to capture “inequality” in a selective manner. But it need not necessarily be confined to evaluate the nature of inequality created or reduced through a development action.
Make no mistake, inequality between developed and developing countries and quest to facilitate a convergence between them was the prime mover in the emergence of the discipline of “development economics”. The objectives behind the birth of the idea of development cooperation were no different. However, over the years both inter-country and intra-country inequalities have been steadily rising and have become a matter of concern today. The entire body of literature capturing the centre-periphery or dependency theories was aligned with the issue of inequality prevailing between the developing and the developed countries.
Inequality has by now been established as not a factor contributing to the efficiency of a socio-economic system. Rather, recent studies observe the relationship between efficiency and inequality to be inverse (see The Inefficiency of Inequality available at https://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/43443/6/S1800058_e…  that suggest an enhanced efficiency with a reduced inequality). 
The difficulties in identifying an empirical relationship between the two lie in appropriately measuring inequality (and measuring efficiency as well). 
Measuring inequality has been a methodological challenge. Efforts have been made to measure it from an income perspective. Perspectives from consumption have also been pursued to measure it. It is often argued that these two do not necessarily move at same pace and, may be, in the same direction. 
Given this methodological challenges, one may consider inequality from the perspective of access to resources. It may be safely argued that lack of development can be linked with a phenomenon of lack of access to resources. Simultaneously, it may also be argued that increased access to resources augments the pace of development.  For the purpose of analytical clarity, we may distinguish among a number of resources: natural – resources obtained directly from nature; economic – resources produced using a combination of natural resources, knowledge and human capacity; social – network of relationships among human beings and political – the power to determine the access regime for the three resources mentioned earlier. For example, colonization mainly was concerned with creating access to resources (mainly natural to begin with and subsequently political)  of the colonies by the colonizers. Gender equity is concerned with lack of access to social resources for women.  The structure of global governance today also signifies unequal access to political resources. The debates on restructuring the governing structures of UN, the World Bank or the IMF signify the lack of access to political resources by the developing countries.  The call for creating a technology facilitation mechanism signifies the concerns with lack of access to economic resources. Restricted access of labour from developing countries to the developed ones, linked to visa restrictions, is another example of lack of access to economic resources. 
We may also club the last two resources as institutions, with the social resources corresponding to the informal institutional resources and political resources conforming to the formal ones.
Needless to add, the access to any one of these resources is contingent upon the nature of access to the other three resources. Thus it is difficult to separate out access differentials in terms of any one of these resources, using a purely quantitative methodology. A mixed methods approach that can link access to all these four types of resources, perhaps would facilitate the creation of a methodological structure that can capture the extent of inequality and its rising trend across the globe. Pure economic logic that considers “institutions” as irrelevant cannot effectively take care of the scourge of inequality that is staring at us. Institutions matter.
A new approach to understanding human development through the lens of equity is surely the order of the day. The fundamental objective of Agenda 2030 that calls for “leaving no one behind” within a stipulated time period is purely an attempt to enhance access to all the four resources mentioned above to those enjoying a restricted access to them. All the sustainable development goals (SDGs) from SDG1 through SDG 17 are clear calls for increased access to one of these resources or another. The need of the hour is to devise an analytical method to capture the extent of inequality in a multidimensional framework – that need not be purely quantitative – based on the idea of access. Such an analytical structure can then be suitably used to evaluate the creation or otherwise of inequality through the development initiatives used so far.
A typical example of the same may be used in evaluating a health related programme. Access to health services can create simultaneous access to enhanced educational resource, increased access to employment opportunities, reduce gender inequalities among others. Simultaneously, increased access of stakeholders to the governance mechanism of health service facilities would facilitate further access to health related facilities. Extant mechanisms of estimating the changes in mortality or morbidity rates may not necessarily capture the nature of change in the access regime across all the resources. Further, the proposed evaluation mechanism would be far more cost efficient in fulfilling all the objectives of evaluation.
To conclude, we would argue that “equity” should be consciously included as a criterion for evaluation of development intervention, in general and development cooperation, in particular. The analytical framework for using this criterion may be structured around the idea of “access” to help capture the multidimensional characteristics of inequality.  

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

Thank you for your observant comments - we do recognize that shift from the previous debates which counterposed growth versus equity, presenting this as an inevitable outcome of the growth process itself.  However, lately there seems to be a growing concern with the issue of inequality itself, not merely because of the issue of efficiency but also in terms of the longer term considerations of sustainability.  There needs to be attention paid not just to the levels of disparity, but the gradients between sections.  This is well noted in the recent work by Oxfam presented at the World Economic Forum, which notes the wealth possessed by the top 26 billionaires exceeds the bottom 3.8 billion people.  In the Human Development Report, we are concerned with disparities that go beyond income, and affect life chances and capabilities.  In this regard we find that there is convergence in the levels of attainments of what can be considered more basic capabilities, and divergence when it comes to more advanced, strategic attainments. And this rings true both in terms of individuals and between countries.  Your observation on centre-periphery relations in dependency theories that indicated the historic inequalities often as a legacy of colonialism can still be seen imprinted in the modern processes in a globalised  economy.  The challenge is to be able to track and quantify the movement of available resources to redress these persistent disparities.  Would you have suggestions about the kinds of metrics that would be appropriate to track disparities in terms of 'access' in evaluations?  Would this be in terms of access to opportunities?      

Prof. Milindo Chakrabarti
Prof. Milindo Chakrabarti

Tanni Mukhopadhyay : You are absolutely right. Inequality, in its growing trend, has created concerns not only in terms of efficiency, but also in terms of sustainability. My take is that these two terms are not independent of one another. Efficient use of resources is a necessary condition for sustainability, even though not sufficient, given our emphasis on "allocative efficiency" and "technical efficiency" that does not consider the creation of negative externalities in the process. A simultaneous  emphasis on "distributive efficiency" may stem the rot. The conditionalities, often imposed in development cooperation, may ensure access to some economic resources in exchange of reduced access to the other types of resources -- natural, political and even, social. The metric I propose for consideration would like to capture the net gain or loss in access to these aggregate of resources while evaluating a process of designed development.  Thanks.    

André de Mello e Souza
André de Mello e Souza

Indeed, Prof. Milindo, more recent work in economic history suggests that inequality has profound effects on development.  The experiences of the Western Hemisphere corroborate this finding quite strikingly.  While the economy of the Northeastern US has, since colonial times, been based on relatively equal small land holdings, those of Southern US and most of Latin America have been based on plantation systems that produced highly unequal societies.  Obviously, the slavery of Africans and indigenous populations contributed to such inequality.  Latin America has since then become the most unequal region in the world, and its inequality has been distinctive in that it persists despite economic growth and democratization.  The only two exceptions are Costa Rica and Uruguay, countries whose territories were largely empty in terms of population during colonization, and, for this reason, possess more equal and developed societies.  Similar comparisons can be made between Northeastern and Southern US and between Northeastern and Southern Brazil.  Inequality undermines  development purportedly by preventing free markets from working properly, by increasing societal conflicts and crime, and by reducing the quality of democratic systems. 

Lilliam  Arrieta de Carsana
Lilliam Arrieta de Carsana

La 4ª revolución industrial podría acrecentar más algunas desigualdades entre países desarrollados y países en vías de desarrollo, así como la brecha laboral entre hombres y mujeres, con el consecuente impacto que el acceso a un trabajo tiene también para la reducción de la pobreza. A nivel mundial, a pesar de los notables aportes que muchas mujeres han realizado a las ciencias y tecnología, el número de mujeres en carreras relacionadas con ciencias, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas, o STEM por sus siglas en inglés, es todavía muy inferior al número de hombres.  Según estudios de distintas organizaciones, incluyendo la UNESCO y el Foro Económico Mundial, actualmente, las mujeres representan menos del 30% de la fuerza laboral en las carreras relacionadas con STEM[1].  
Esta nueva revolución anuncia cambios positivos y negativos para hombres y mujeres en muchos ámbitos. En el ámbito laboral surgirán nuevas fuentes de empleo, pero también desaparecerán muchas otras.  Las nuevas fuentes de empleo estarán principalmente relacionadas con tecnologías novedosas y con trabajos que requerirán, en su mayoría, conocimientos relacionados con STEM, profesiones en las que las mujeres somos minoritarias.  A título de ejemplo, el Informe Global sobre la Brecha de Género del Foro Económico Mundial 2018 -FEM 2018- indica que solo un 22% de trabajos relacionados con inteligencia artificial están siendo desempeñados por mujeres, mientras que un informe de la Unión Internacional de Telecomunicaciones, indica que en 2016, solo el 6% de las aplicaciones móviles o apps estaban siendo desarrolladas por mujeres[2]. Por su parte, la Robotics Business Review informa que en una competencia reciente sobre robótica, de 444 participantes, solo 23 fueron mujeres[3]. En pocas palabras, si no aumentamos la participación de la mujer en profesiones relacionadas con STEM, la 4ª revolución podría impactar mucho más negativamente las oportunidades y condiciones laborales de las mujeres que las de los hombres, con el consecuente incremento de la desigualdad. 
Charles Darwin es conocido, entre otras cosas, por explicar que las especies con mayor capacidad para adaptarse a las transformaciones de su entorno tienen más probabilidades de sobrevivir, por lo que hombres y mujeres debemos adaptarnos a los cambios que la 4ª revolución trae consigo, si queremos sobrevivir, laboralmente hablando. Sin embargo, dado que estos cambios no nos afectarán a todos por igual y que algunos grupos, como las mujeres, podríamos sufrir mayores consecuencias negativas, es necesario adoptar soluciones diferenciadas y es necesario adoptarlas ya.  El citado estudio del FEM indica que las medidas para reducir la brecha laboral y evitar que las oportunidades laborales de las mujeres se deterioren son medidas ganar-ganar, ya que los países más competitivos a nivel global son aquellos que generalmente invierten en su capital humano, implementando medidas para fomentar la participación equitativa en el ámbito laboral 

Tanni Mukhopadhyay
Tanni Mukhopadhyay Moderator

Dear Colleagues,  

Welcome to the e-discussion on the topic of inequality in human development, which features a consultation for the upcoming global Human Development Report from UNDP.  We are currently working on the draft report, building a narrative that seeks to understand the implications of persistent, high and increasing levels of inequality in the countries and peoples of the world.  While development debates have commonly tended to focus on poverty eradication, it is of late that the issue of inequality has also become a central concern, given the impact this has on progress, and particularly for those individuals and groups left behind.  It is also an emerging concern when we consider the drivers of future changes - e.g. technology and climate change.  While the regional and country level realities vary, there are some common challenges that emerge - particularly when we consider structural predeterminants for inequalities that impact levels of human development.  Disparities which are early onset in the lifecycle can have lasting impacts on opportunities and life chances, which result in inequalities that persist and get recreated over generations.  Yet, there are also interventions that have successfully broken the cycle of inequality and deprivations and enabled millions to benefit from economic and social progress.  What we are trying to achieve in this e-discussion is to elicit your perspectives on the main drivers of inequality you see in your part of the world, and some of the central policy interventions and social movements that seem to break through these cycles.   We are also looking to find innovative ways of measuring and tracking various dimensions of inequalities, which goes beyond income inequality alone, and which have an impact on life chances and future prospects for individuals and countries.   We look forward to an engaging e-discussion and to gaining insights that can help us evolve our thinking and conceptualization of the challenge posed by inequality.  Best regards,   Tanni

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