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Equity

Equity and Development, Five Years On

Francisco Ferreira's picture

As I was packing for a trip to the 2011 ABCDE on “Broadening Opportunities for Development” in Paris, I got a call from an old friend: Would I write a blog on how I saw the “impact” of the 2006 World Development Report, which was entitled “Equity and Development”, over the last five years? Since my friend was paying my ticket to Paris, I could not really refuse, but I did tell her that I had heard Esther Duflo was also going to the ABCDE, so I had better not pretend that one could assess the real “impact” of that report on the practice of development economics…

I am glad to reminisce, though! The World Development Report (WDR) 2006, which Michael Walton and I led under François Bourguignon’s guidance, was an attempt to bring issues of distribution back into the core of the development debate. Distribution was central to the concerns of early development economists, from W. A. Lewis and Simon Kuznets in the 1950s, to Ahluwalia and Chenery’s Redistribution with Growth (1974). After an interlude - marked by the onslaught of representative agent models in macroeconomics and by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan on the global stage – inequality made a tentative return to mainstream economics in the early 1990s. At that time, a number of authors suggested that today’s distribution of wealth (or income) might affect tomorrow’s growth and development prospects, via a myriad pathways: investment capacity, occupational choice, political economy, etc.