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What’s Social Policy Got To Do With Economic Growth?


  • Ravi Kanbur



So what’s social policy got to do with economic growth? Quite a lot, it would appear, if one takes the results of cross-country growth regressions at face value, as they are by many social policy analysts, even as they criticize the findings of the economic policy part of the very same regressions. I argue that these regressions are deeply problematic, and are antithetical to social policy analysts’ normal instincts on the importance of country and community specificity. At the same time, attempts to distinguish social policy from economic policy in terms of policy objectives is not very successful, while classifying policy instruments into economic or social also leaves a significant grey area. But the economic and social policy analysis literatures can indeed be distinguished in their approaches to understanding the mechanisms of policy transmission. Despite the difficulties of defining social policy analysis, except in contradistinction to economic policy analysis, both types of analysis are needed to advance understanding of policy impact and design of policy. The Bank should (i) play a lead role in developing and assessing such multidisciplinary approaches, (ii) move to a much more outcomes based system of aid allocation in recognition of the country-specific complexities of linkage between (economic or social) policy and outcomes, and (iii) understand itself better as an institution, and its institutional footprint in countries where it is a big player.

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  • Ravi Kanbur, 2006. "What’s Social Policy Got To Do With Economic Growth?," Working Papers id:366, eSocialSciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:366
    Note: Working Papers

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kanbur, Ravi, 2001. "Economic Policy, Distribution and Poverty: The Nature of Disagreements," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 1083-1094, June.
    2. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    3. Grusky, David & Kanbur, Ravi, 2004. "CONCEPTUAL FERMENT IN POVERTY AND INEQUALITY: The View from Economics and Sociology," Working Papers 127149, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
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    social policy; economic growth; Economics; Sociology;


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