International Journal of Business and Social Science

ISSN 2219-1933 (Print), 2219-6021 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijbss


The Economic Debate on Inequality: Past, Present and Future
Samuel Jenkin

The 2006 World Development Report Equity and Development included a shift in the raison d’etre of the World Bank. No longer simply satisfied with reducing poverty and working towards the establishment of economic environments fostering growth, the Bank firmly identified the importance of equity in the development process. It did this in two ways: 1) directly linking equity to poverty reduction, and 2) placing primary emphasis on the equality of opportunities over the equality of outcomes. This paper presents a historical review of inequality literature in the economic sphere in order to examine the evidence supporting the World Bank’s changed approach. It articulates the important shifts that have occurred over time and highlights ongoing debates within the economic professions concerning the importance of equality for development and economic growth. It also identifies the debate which followed the Report’s release and assesses the impact for future research directions.

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