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Consultations ogranized by IETS, Brazil

World Development Report 2006: Equity and Development

November 22, 2004
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Francisco Ferreira, Berk Ozler and Peter Lanjouw attended a consultation organized jointly with IETS with academics, government officials and civil society representatives from five countries in Latin America.  Comments received at the IETS Consultation included:

  • Participants felt we were careless about assuming that countries were X-inefficient, and that policy packages might therefore be available that could reduce inequities and inefficiencies at the same time. The sense is that equity-efficiency trade-offs are nearer us than we seem to like to admit. A paper by J. Fishkin (1978), on "Liberty versus Equal Opportunity", in Social Philosophy and Policy, Vol 5 (1), was cited.
  • Some people felt the concept most important for arguments such as those planned for Chapter 5 was polarization, rather than inequality.
  • Sebastián Galiani felt that our evidence on health, as well as other historical work on migration and trade flows in the 1850-1914 globalization wave, suggest ways in which 'globalization' can be inequality-reducing, and that we should explore that possibility.
  • Some of the sociologists present felt we should use the word 'recognition' more appropriately.
  • Simon Schartzman felt that the human rights perspective could be a radicalizing force in the political process, due to its "absolutist nature".  He also felt that we should be careful in seeming to advocate too large a role for 'direct democracy'. If this is to the detriment of the institutions of representative democracy, we could be playing into the hand of authoritarian movements of various hues, which have traditionally relied on 'mob rule' to fake democratic credentials.
  • There was a lot of support for the issue of international labor mobility - a phrase people preferred to 'international migration'. Some suggested the indirect to link to human capital accumulation, if greater returns to schooling abroad raise domestic demand for schooling in 'sending' countries.
  • Many interventions asked us to be explicitly concerned with inequality in the quality of schooling, in addition to years of schooling.
  • A representative from the NGO community felt that we were too timid in our aversion to inequality. She felt that trading off some inequality reduction against some loss in efficiency might make sense to a room full of economists, but was NOT how most people perceive the need for greater fairness in the world.
  • There were pleas for us to both document and address policies related to the digital divide. Some participants provided information on work of their own on broader information access. People also mentioned that the issue of access to information encompasses - but goes beyond - Internet and the digital divide. Some expressed concern at market power in the media, and private control over the flows of news and information, in many countries.
  • One participant urged us to use spatially disaggregated data to look at the spatial distribution of welfare in large countries, like Brazil, India, and China.

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