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Tackling Non-Inclusive Growth

Rigorous research on the causes and consequences of unequally distributed growth is necessary to identify solutions. But the best analysis means little in the absence of hands-on consensus-building and political engagement.

MILAN – Several years ago, I had the privilege of chairing a commission on growth in developing countries. Its members had significant economic, political, and social policymaking experience in the developing world, and despite their differences, they all agreed on certain crucial points. Two still stand out in my memory.

First, as we concluded in our final report, non-inclusive growth patterns will always ultimately fail. Such patterns cannot produce the sustained high growth that is necessary for reducing poverty and fulfilling basic human aspirations for health, security, and the chance to contribute productively and creatively to society. They underutilize and misuse valuable human resources; and they often give rise to political or social turmoil, often marked by ideological or ethnic polarization, which then leads either to wide policy swings or to policy paralysis.

Our second broad conclusion was that sustained growth requires a coherent, adaptable strategy that is based on shared values and goals, trust, and some degree of consensus. Of course, achieving that is easier said than done.

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