Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity

October 9, 2013


Key Messages
  • Social inclusion is the process of improving the ability, opportunity and dignity of people, disadvantaged on the basis of their identity, to take part in society.
  • The report uses evidence in creative ways to bring home the message that inclusion can be advanced in myriad ways, that many countries have moved forward, and that change is within our reach.

Few terms are as abstract and as political as is "social inclusion". The report "Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity" puts boundaries around an abstract concept and provides a framework for a diverse audience engaged in policy action.

This report defines social inclusion in two ways.  The first is a broad sweep that defines it as:

" The process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society. "

A second, sharper definition takes into the account how terms can be improved and for whom. It articulates social inclusion as:

" The process of improving the ability, opportunity and dignity of people, disadvantaged on the basis of their identity, to take part in society. "

The report argues that social inclusion takes poverty analysis beyond identifying correlates to uncovering its underlying causes. While it is possible to measure social inclusion, it is important to emphasize that measures are merely symptoms or flags. The real test of moving towards social inclusion is to ask why certain outcomes obtain for certain groups and focus on the drivers and processes of social inclusion.

Framing the Issue: Part I of the report makes the case that inclusion has both intrinsic and instrumental value for development and shared prosperity. It is integral to human well-being, but it also matters because the exclusion of individuals and groups has substantial social, political and economic costs.

Gender, race, ethnicity, religion, but also sexual orientation, disability status and nationality are the most common axes of exclusion.

Transitions, Transformations and Perceptions: Part II of the report emphasizes the urgency for social inclusion. It discusses some of the salient macro transitions of the last decades—demographic, spatial, economic, and in knowledge—which have profound ramifications for inclusion.

Change is possible: Part III of the report argues that change is inevitable and can be influenced towards social inclusion. It shifts away from a deterministic view that exclusion is immutable because it is embedded in norms and culture. Change will almost always be political and there can be push-back from dominant groups when previously subordinate groups feel included and break the norms.

Social inclusion in the World Bank Group

The importance of Inclusion Matters is in its optimistic message – that change happens and that it can be influenced. The World Bank Group is committed to influencing that change through our projects, the sharing of knowledge and the dialogue with our partners. Cyprian Fisiy, Director of Social Development, said of the report, “if we as a development institution want to deliver the best results, we need to deal with issues like stigma and stereotyping through our projects and programs.  It is time to speak about these insidious threats to ability, opportunity and dignity and – most importantly – to take action.”

Video: What Does It Mean to Be Afro-Peruvian?

World Bank Group