Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Inclusive States: Social Policy and Structural Inequalities

Anis A.

Other authors: 
and Arjan de Haan (Editors),

New Frontiers of Social Policy Series

Published by: 
World Bank

Publisher town: 
Washington DC


A definition of inclusive states might be governments that direct policies for addressing the needs of all, also respecting the rights of citizens to exercise voice and influence on which services are provided and how they are delivered. In concrete terms, inclusive states should have an interest in strengthening the social contract with their citizens. The opposite of this, structural inequality, is a condition arising from unequal status attributed to a category of people in relation to others, a relationship perpetuated and reinforced by unequal relations in roles, functions, decision rights and opportunities.

This book suggests that a central focus of state policy should be a concern for equity, both by encouraging social mobility and ensuring equity in the distributional effects of policy reforms and development interventions. The book examines the role of the state in addressing structural inequalities, identifying also a set of “redressing” policy recommendations.

The first part of the book analyzes some experiences from high-income countries, as lessons for low- and middle-income nations. Chapter 1 presents a broad view of the changes in social policies in the world in the last decades, while in Chapter 2 lessons from European welfare states are taken into account for their possible replication in other countries. In Chapter 3, several former communist (currently capitalist) nations are analyzed with respect to their role and responsiveness regarding social policies. Chapter 4 addresses the importance of healthy macroeconomic systems, which promote growth, for effective social policy delivery. This is a particularly important point for the World Bank’s approach to equity. Part 2 analyzes structural inequalities and policy experiences from Latin American and sub-Saharan African countries. Chapter 5 frames the context of exclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean, while Chapter 6 presents a complete analysis of structural deficiencies in distribution and sociocultural recognition of disadvantaged groups (mainly indigenous groups) across the region. These authors relate current inequalities with historical patterns of ethnic and class domination. Chapter 7 focuses on cases of local participatory democracy in Mexico and Colombia. Chapter 8 addresses aspects of gender, caste and ethnic exclusion in Nepal, also reviewing cases of policy reform aimed at cultural changes for tackling these matters. Chapter 9 analyzes affirmative action policies in India.

Part 3 addresses a series of cases of inclusive institutions. Chapter 10 examines theoretically how cultural diversity and identity affect the delivery of basic services, especially in health and education. Chapter 11 describes important achievements in the integration of Maori communities in New Zealand, yet also the many aspects of inequality that are still unresolved in this multiethnic nation. Chapter 12 addresses current practices in the provision of social security for children in sub-Saharan Africa, in conformity with the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Chapter 13 documents the methodology developed during the last five years in Jamaica for monitoring and improving social policy, including participatory processes of institutional change at different levels of governance. Chapter 14 addresses the potential of public interest litigation to advance social rights and channel the voices of marginalized people into social policy processes, through different cases in the world. Finally, Chapter 15 discusses how effective legal and regulatory institutions are essential for sustaining economic growth and crafting equitable development strategies. It is important to note that the World Bank currently finances more than 600 projects regarding legal and judicial reform in different countries. As general conclusions, the book proposes two challenges to be addressed by social policy in the future by local and regional policy makers. First, policy design for low- a

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