There is increasing theory and evidence that durable inequalities of income and wealth constrain the long-run development of societies. Policy efforts to reduce poverty and ensure inclusion have so far focused almost entirely on leveling the playing field by expanding the access of the poor to markets and to public services, including health, education, and legal protection. Will this be enough to achieve the ambitious new goals that the World Bank has set for itself and for the developing world?
The 4th World Bank Group Conference on Equity will investigate an issue that has been largely neglected in the formulation of policy: the role of aspirations in creating more inclusive societies. If what children want for themselves or what their parents want for them is conditioned not just by their own economic opportunities but also by the social environment in which they live, then high levels of inequality might be self-perpetuating. A history of poverty and an environment of concentrated poverty may dampen aspirations, with consequences for effort, schooling, and investment decisions.
The conference will examine the evidence for this link and recent policy interventions to break the cycle of low aspirations-low investment-persistent exclusion and thus ensure a true leveling of the playing field. Keynote speakers will be Debraj Ray, Silver Professor, Faculty of Arts and Science, and Professor of Economics at NYU, and Glenn Loury, Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Brown University.
The annual World Bank Group Conference on Equity aims to promote the exchange of cutting-edge policy research among academics, policy makers, and development practitioners. It will take place on May 29th – May 30th , 2014 at World Bank Group Headquarters in Washington, D.C.