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Innovative and important, yes, but also instrumental and incomplete: the treatment of redistribution in the new 'New Poverty Agenda'


  • Simon Maxwell

    (Overseas Development Institute, London, UK)


The current narrative on poverty reduction, summarized in WDR 2000|1, rehabilitates distribution as a central topic on the development agenda. WDR argues (i) that redistribution matters for instrumental reasons, as a route to faster growth and faster poverty reduction; (ii) that changes to income distribution result from complex changes in sectoral, geographical and individual performance; and (iii) that better distribution can be achieved in a win-win fashion, without undermining incentives or forcing a choice between equity and efficiency. The argument can be extended: (i) the case for redistribution is not simply instrumental, but can be rooted in a discourse about social inclusion and rights; (ii) observed changes are strongly associated with liberalization policies, and with changes to social norms; and (iii) governments can do more than the Bank suggests to achieve greater equality. A commitment to redistribution should be enshrined in a new international development target: a ceiling on Gini coefficients of 0.45. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Maxwell, 2001. "Innovative and important, yes, but also instrumental and incomplete: the treatment of redistribution in the new 'New Poverty Agenda'," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(3), pages 331-341.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:13:y:2001:i:3:p:331-341
    DOI: 10.1002/jid.788

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mattias Lundberg & Lyn Squire, 2003. "The simultaneous evolution of growth and inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(487), pages 326-344, April.
    2. Taylor, Lance & Arida, Persio, 1988. "Long-run income distribution and growth," Handbook of Development Economics,in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 161-194 Elsevier.
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