It is hard to overemphasize the role of productivity growth in reducing poverty and raising living standards. Sustained productivity increases have made possible the unprecedented rise in prosperity over the last two centuries. Recent evidence suggests that productivity growth has been on the decline around the world for the last decade, with a few exceptions. Understanding whether this is correct, and, if so, what explains it and what can be done, are now priorities for economists and policymakers.
“Inclusive growth” has been at the forefront of policy discussions in OECD and non-OECD economies. These discussions reflect a concern that economic growth does not necessarily improve the welfare of all citizens as income inequalities have risen to unprecedented levels over the past decades. The richest 10% of the population in the OECD area earn almost ten times more than the poorest 10%.
Throughout history, innovation has been the main engine of improved living standards and the current period of digital innovation offers similar opportunities. At the same time, periods of substantial technological change are known to be highly disruptive as new technologies render old technologies obsolete. This process creates winners but also losers within and across countries.
As an economist, I always thought that sustained growth over many years was the key to reduce poverty and promote development. Now I know, that while growth is important, it is a particular type of growth, the one that is inclusive, that is key for sustained development to take place.
As policy makers we are now focusing all our efforts in identifying and promoting policies targeted at boosting the incomes of the bottom 40 percent of the population. We need to ensure that growth provides benefits to those that are in the lowest deciles of the income distribution.
Inclusive growth refers to both the pace and distribution of economic growth. For growth to be sustainable and effective in reducing poverty, it needs to be inclusive (Berg and Ostry 2011a, Kraay 2004). Traditionally, poverty (or inequality) and economic growth analyses have been conducted separately. Recent work indicates that there may not be a trade-off between equity and efficiency, as suggested by Okun (1975), and “that it would be a big mistake to separate analyses of growth and income distribution” (Berg and Ostry 2011b). Ianchovichina and Gable (2012) describe inclusive growth as raising the pace of growth and enlarging the size of the economy by providing a level playing field for investment and increasing productive employment opportunities.
- inclusive growth