Innovations in Social Inclusion

Social inclusion forms the foundation for shared prosperity and plays a major role in poverty alleviation. Exclusion is costly to communities and nations’ economies – negatively impacting productivity, human capital development, and engagement by citizens. How do we diagnose and address root causes of exclusion? How do we go beyond the provision of ‘equal opportunity’, and ensure respect for individual dignity, and the right to human life. Join Maitreyi Bordia Das of the World Bank, and three other experts, professor Gillette Hall of Georgetown University, Judith Morrison of IDB, and Emcet Oktay Tas of The World Bank in a conversation about Social Inclusion.
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Maitreyi Bordia Das, Lead Social Development Specialist, The World Bank, moderator.

Why are we engaging on this issue of innovations in Inclusion Matters: the Foundation for Shared Prosperity.” It made us think about intractable questions, made us engage a wide range of actors and made us sit down and write about it.

We have with us an exciting panel. Please join me in welcoming Gillette Hall from Georgetown University, Judith Morrison from the Inter-American Development Bank and Emcet Tas from the World Bank. I want to start by asking them what they see as innovations in either understanding social inclusion or in taking action towards it. What are the big new ideas? What are the age-old ideas whose time has now come? In short, where are the innovations?

Starting today and going on until November 21, new questions will be posted and new ideas will be shared. New comments will be made on old ideas.

I encourage you to be bold. Ask questions. Answer questions. Comment on ideas. Argue, agree, differ and debate. We will share your thoughts with some of the most influential policy makers in the world to help them in their quest for social inclusion.

Thank you to all for your active and ongoing participation and I really look forward to being your moderator.

Gillette Hall, Professor, Global Human Development, Georgetown University, on indigenous peoples and social program reform.

In the global fight against poverty, we are increasingly aware that progress is not colorblind. Nor is it blind to race, ethnicity, or gender. Around the world, indigenous, afro-descendent, and female-headed households continue to be over-represented among the poor. Poverty it turns out, has a face, and a color.

This is how social exclusion works: take two job applicants, and give them exactly the same C.V. – the same education and skill qualifications – and allow them to differ only according to name. One is called Greg and the other is called Jamal. Jamal, it turns out, will get significantly fewer invitations for a job interview (Bertrand and Mullainathan, 2004). So even as Jamal gets educated, that education provides less opportunity, and less reward. This happens around the world, every day, to women, to indigenous peoples, to gay people and the disabled… the list goes on. Constraints to opportunity that translate to continued poverty, despite individual best efforts.

So this is the first key challenge of inclusion – equalizing opportunity across race, gender, and ethnicity and other dimensions of exclusion. Yet it turns out that extending ‘equal opportunity’ may be more complex than it first appears. When a new health post opens offering treatment to the entire population in a given area, does that post now provide ‘equal opportunity’ access to health care? Maybe yes, in terms of physical proximity services.

But imagine that health post is in the North-West Congo Basin, where health workers refer to the Babenjelle peoples as “la viande qui parle” (“beef that talks”), and when these families arrive at the health post, they are routinely humiliated, belittled, and given inferior services (The Lancet, 2006) . So now, opportunity has at least two dimensions – the ‘supply of opportunity’ by service providers, but also the ‘demand-side of opportunity’ – where there are constraints to the take-up of social services being reported among indigenous peoples and other groups worldwide.

Development work, when viewed through the lens of inclusion, renders the categories of ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries increasingly obsolete. For those of us truly dedicated to the task of ‘development’, social inclusion is a frame of reference that inevitably shifts our focus beyond the mere challenge of poverty reduction – at least in mere monetary terms. What about the homosexual man who is maimed or even killed because of his sexual preference? The threats to his life remain as fundamentally damaging, even though he is not poor, and no matter where he lives. Social Inclusion takes us beyond the provision of ‘equal opportunity’, to the pursuit of respect for individual dignity, and the right to human life. For countries rich and poor alike, Social Inclusion is indeed the challenge of our time.

Judith Morrison, Senior Advisor, Inter-American Development Bank, on development policies and the role of data in promoting inclusion.

Indigenous peoples and African descendants represent up to 40% of Latin America’s population, however they have not seen the sharp reductions in poverty experienced in the overall population, and are still more likely to live in conditions of socio-economic exclusion. While poverty in Latin America has decreased 14% over the last five years, the reduction in poverty among indigenous peoples was only 4.3%. In Panama, 90% of indigenous peoples are poor and 69.5% live in extreme poverty, in comparison 30% of the non-indigenous population is poor. In Peru, 34% of African descendants live below the poverty line compared to 23% of mestizos.

Despite advances in data gathering, the full-extent of exclusion by race and ethnicity is not clearly understood because of limited experience analyzing race and ethnicity disaggregated data in the region for the range of indicators that contribute to socio-economic exclusion.

Improving Race and Ethnicity Data Instruments for Policy Analysis and Formulation is a project that focuses on improving the quality, analysis, accuracy and availability of race and ethnicity disaggregated data collected at the national level, an essential step towards strengthening the capacity of policy makers and statistics institutes to design and measure inclusive policies. This post focuses on the first of four innovative pilots, a regional activity that disaggregates data by race and ethnicity in four countries as part of the Commitment to Equity (CEQ), a joint initiative led by Tulane and the Inter-American Dialogue with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

The pilot objective is to provide technical advice and support for the analysis of fiscal policy, inequality, and poverty through the analysis of patterns of government spending and taxation disaggregated by ethnicity and race. Preliminary results in Brazil suggest that Afro-Brazilians receive lower amounts of transfers per capita, despite higher poverty status; in Guatemala, indigenous peoples receive higher amounts of transfers than non-indigenous; and in Uruguay and Bolivia, there seem to be few differences by race and ethnicity in public transfers for health and education. These findings will lead to improved opportunities to adapt policies in order to better address social and economic exclusion, and minimize the differences in outcomes among racial and ethnic groups.

*The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the institution with which she is affiliated.

Emcet Oktay Tas, Social Development Specialist, The World Bank, on measuring and changing attitudes and perceptions to promote inclusion.

In the report Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity , we characterized social inclusion as “the process of improving the terms for individuals and groups, disadvantaged on the basis of their identity, to take part in society.” By this definition, moving toward social inclusion is not only about addressing the patterns of deprivation among disadvantaged groups. It is also - and perhaps more importantly - about unleashing the grip of different identities or axes of exclusion that give rise to these outcomes, so people can participate in society on better terms.

Attitudes and perceptions can play an important role in propelling change toward social inclusion. Attitudes and perceptions are important, because people act on the basis of how they feel. Perceptions of being included and respected are central to the opportunities people access, the abilities they gain and develop, and the dignity and respect they receive from other members of society. All these factors can define the way these groups take part in society—whether or not they participate in markets; whether or not they access social services; which physical, social or political spaces they claim in their societies, and so on.

Academic achievement among children from stigmatized groups, such as the Dalits in India, is significantly hindered by their teachers’ stereotypes about their abilities. Similarly, stigmatization of people with HIV/AIDS prevents individuals from seeking information, adopting preventive behavior, getting tested, and seeking treatment. Negative attitudes toward women’s education, access to jobs, and leadership positions are concentrated in countries that have the lowest indicators of gender equality. The point is that there is ample evidence which suggests attitudes and perceptions mediate people’s access to markets, services and spaces.

Although social norms and belief systems that drive the outcomes for disadvantaged groups can be difficult to identify in standard empirical data, many countries and development agencies now conduct surveys that measure attitudes and perceptions. Examples include How’s Life? by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); the World Values Surveys and the Gallup World Poll ; the Life in Transition Surveys conducted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank; and the Latino Barometer and Afrobarometer , among others.

What can these innovations in capturing attitudes and perceptions tell us about social inclusion and exclusion? What are some other ways in which the norms and belief systems that drive patterns of exclusion can be captured? And finally, from a policy perspective, what kind of interventions can change the prejudices, stereotypes, and misperceptions that affect the way policy is implemented and even designed?