Changing mindsets and policy priorities: Can growth and inequality reduction go hand in hand?

“This is a cross post based on GDN’s President Pierre Jacquet’s Op-Ed on the GDN 14th annual Conference, taking place in Manila, Philippines. The conference theme is “Inequality, Social Protection and Inclusive Growth”, with a focus on promoting research capacity building to inspire better policies.”

Pierre Jacquet

Pierre Jacquet, GDN President during the GDN 13th Annual Conference.

As concerns of the spread of poverty and social inequality across the world, and in developing countries in particular; research to impact policy decision must thus be driven by those who live among it, rather than international experts and aid agencies. GDN’s vision to bridge social science research and policy takes up an approach that ensures maximum effective as well as efficient communication. This year’s annual conference aims not only to raise the voice of developing country researchers, but also to provide them with a unique chance to debate their views and their research against comments, insights and advice of the experts. Also on the debate whether a policy focus on inequality reduction weakens or strengthens the growth objectives of a country, GDN advocates, through this conference, that the frustration with insufficient results does justify more research and more debate, which also entails value-for-money in learning about how to better meet challenges and influence effective policies and priorities.

Both the rise of poverty and inequalities in industrial countries, and their persistence in developing countries amidst a diversity of experiences, suggest that the empirical design of social protection schemes and of “inclusive growth” policies is still a mostly unchartered agenda. In a context in which policy priorities are largely the results of local political economy considerations rather than general discussions on what “should be” done, it is crucial to expose facts and document policy results, because this is what can powerfully change domestic agendas. This is what GDN’s research experience confirms, for instance through the recently completed research program “Supporting Policy Research to Inform Agricultural Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia“. This is also what all participants in the GDN Conference in Manila will help do.

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