In every country, certain groups—whether migrants, Indigenous Peoples, or other minorities—confront barriers that prevent them from fully participating in their nation’s political, economic, and social life. These groups are excluded through a number of practices ranging from stereotypes, stigmas, and superstitions based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, or disability status. Such practices can rob them of dignity, security, and the opportunity to lead a better life.
There is a moral imperative to address social exclusion. Left unaddressed, exclusion of disadvantaged groups can also be costly. And the costs—whether social, political, or economic—are likely to be substantial. One study found that exclusion of the ethnic minority Roma cost Romania 887 million euros in lost productivity. In addition, exclusion also has damaging consequences for human capital development.
Acknowledging this, the United Nations has committed to “leaving no one behind” in an effort to help countries promote inclusive growth and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Social inclusion is an integral part of—and vital to—achieving the World Bank Group’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
The World Bank Group defines social inclusion as:
- The process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society, and
- The process of improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity to take part in society.