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Shared Societies: The Link Between Inclusion and Economic Growth

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

The Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada and Member of the Club de Madrid, presented an argument in favor of fostering "shared societies" at the World Bank today - providing, unintentionally, CommGAP with a systematic case why inclusive communication and accountability promotes economic growth. The "Shared Societies Project" of the Club de Madrid operates on the assumption that inclusive societies are more peaceful and economically more successful. A shared society, in this organization's understanding, is a society "where people hold an equal capacity to participate in and benefit from economic, political and social opportunities regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, language, gender or other attributes and where, as a consequence, relations between groups a peaceful."

Shared societies are about inclusion. Inclusion is, ultimately, about communication. An inclusive public sphere is based on equal access to public dialogue by all members of a society. Participation fosters a sense of community - of sharing a society - and allows people to exercise their citizenship. Economically, citizenship means contributing to the economy as entrepreneur, member of the work force, taxpayer etc. It also means holding the state accountable for its fiscal policies. Here's the gist of the argument that the Club de Madrid is making with regard to inclusion and economic growth:

  1. Governments that invest in all members of society foster a productive economic environment that maximizes the economic contribution of every individual.
  2. Responsive governments create a sense of belonging among citizens, which makes them more willing to support the state and the common good.
  3. Therefore, business can draw on a more stable and more productive population. Entrepreneurship and innovation flourish, making investment more attractive. This enhances the economic wellbeing of a country.
  4. Transparency of public institutions reduces corruption and wasteful public spending. This enhances a state's fiscal dividend, enhancing economic wellbeing and providing resources that can be invested in further promotion of a shared society. Thus we have a virtuous circle between an inclusive society and economic growth.
  5. Individual households flourish with the broader economy and are more able to contribute to the state, making the country less vulnerable to external shocks to the economy.

In short, the Club de Madrid concludes: "You cannot have sustained and equitable economic wellbeing without inclusion." There you have it, from the mouths of some of the most influential former Heads of State: Inclusion fosters economic growth - and inclusion is a matter of communication.

Picture: Shared Societies Project

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