Cambodia, Japan, Nepal

Quality of Growth for What? For Whom?

photo credit: Wayan Vota via photopin cc
photo credit: Wayan Vota via photopin cc

What do we mean by quality of growth? How do we measure it?

How do policy makers operationalise it?

As Lawrence Haddad wrote on his blog, Institute of Development Studies, Agency for French Development and Japan International Cooperation Agency Research Institute have been exploring the challenging question of quality of growth. Some of the preliminary outcomes are summarised in his blog post, which is very interesting.

When talking about the quality of economic growth, one of the biggest questions is growth for what. What are we looking for after growth? Why do we want growth? Some might say for money, savings, or wealth. Development practitioners might say for helping the poor out of poverty. Then another question comes.

Growth for whom? Policy makers and development partners still tend to quickly translate ‘growth is good for the poor’, trickle-down theory. Even though they further think of the question in depth, they might be stuck at pro-poor growth discussions. Then another question comes.

Pro-poor for whom? There are some interesting implications from the joint project to illustrate growth does not work for reducing poverty in some cases.

Even historically good performance of growth in driving down poverty has bypassed the most vulnerable members of society. One paper found that in Cambodia, despite excellent macroeconomic performance between 2004 and 2010 and extremely rapid declines in income poverty rates, households with certain attributes (primarily agrarian, who own little or no land) remain stuck in poverty. In another example, one paper using Nepal data compares the responsiveness of human development outcomes to income growth between individuals with and without disabilities. The paper makes it clear that income growth delivers less for individuals with disabilities.
(Referred to Development Horizons by Lawrence Haddad)

It may be good to stop and think what growth and whose poverty we are talking about once more.

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