Wednesday, June 2, 2010

ECLAC's Time for Equality

A couple weeks ago maladjusted gave you a sneak peek of ECLAC's new document "The Time for Equality," outlining a regional agenda to promote social equality. Well, the final version is now out and it's safe to say it's a must read for anyone interested in the state of development in Latin America and where the region might be going in the future. This ambitious document is essentially a development blueprint for the region calling for a return of the State as a leading actor in the promotion of economic development and social equality.

The full report comes in at a whopping 290 pages, so this one will take a bit to digest since clearly I can't do justice to this high quality and book-length document in a single post. But you can be sure the Count will soon share many of its insights.

But in the meantime I'll leave you with a simple question included in the report: why equality and why now?

  • equality is tremendously important for social cohesion. When wealth is concentrated and growth isn't shared broadly an "expectations gap" is created that "increases social conflict, which erodes government legitimacy and threatens the sustainability of growth."
  • equality is more conducive to "authentic competitiveness." Which is to say that there are large long-term productivity gains from an egalitarian society in which everyone has the opportunity to make use of their talents and labor and the environment aren't over exploited. "In the long-run there's a virtuous circle between smaller social gaps, smaller productivity gaps and a more dynamic and sustainable growth. The evidence is conclusive, in the sense that economic development and social equality tend to converge."
  • the experience of the recent crisis suggests that highly unequal societies that are overly dependent on financial sectors tend to be more volatile and carry significant costs in terms of poverty and general welfare.

In any case, this is all just a really tiny flavor of all the good stuff included in the document, so I strongly urge all of you to check it out (no english version yet, but it should be out soon).

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