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Horizontal Inequalities: A Neglected Dimension of Development

  • Frances Stewart

Current thinking about development places individuals firmly at the centre of concern for analysis and policy. This paper explores why groups are important for individual welfare and social stability, and argues that horizontal inequalities (ie inequalities between culturally formed groups) is a very important but neglected dimension of development. Most attention is focussed on inequality between individuals. The paper recognises that groups are socially constructed and malleable, often with fluid membership. Nonetheless, group's relative performance in economic, social and political dimensions is an important source of individual welfare and can cause serious political instability. This is illustrated by nine case studies, in which horizontal inequalities have led to a range of political disturbances, in some cases modified by state action to correct the inequalities. The paper concludes by pointing to an array of actions that can be taken to correct horizontal inequalities, arguing that such policies should form an important part of development strategy, but currently do not in either economic or political conditionality.

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File URL: http://www3.qeh.ox.ac.uk/RePEc/qeh/qehwps/qehwps81.pdf
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Paper provided by Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford in its series QEH Working Papers with number qehwps81.

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Handle: RePEc:qeh:qehwps:qehwps81
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  1. David Turton, 1997. "War and ethnicity: Global connections and local violence in North East Africa and former Yugoslavia," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(1), pages 77-94.
  2. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  3. Premdas, R.R., 1993. "Ethnicity and Development: The CAse of Fiji," Papers 46, United Nations - Research Institute of Social Development.
  4. Elbadawi, Ibrahim & Sambanis, Nicholas, 2001. "How much war will we see? Estimating the incidence of civil war in 161 countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2533, The World Bank.
  5. Sudhir Anand and Amartya Sen, 1995. "Gender Inequality in Human Development: Theories and Measurement," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-1995-01, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  6. George Sherer, 2000. "Intergroup Economic Inequality in South Africa: The Post-apartheid Era," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 317-321, May.
  7. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
  8. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 2000. "Greed and grievance in civil war," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2355, The World Bank.
  9. Heyer, Judith & Stewart, Frances & Thorp, Rosemary (ed.), 2002. "Group Behaviour and Development: Is the Market Destroying Cooperation?," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199256921.
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