Archive for SSP related Analysis

Minority Voices

MinorityVoices

The Minority Voices Programme is a development and training project organized by the Minority Rights Group, an international non-governmental organization that supports minority groups and indigenous people as they strive to maintain their rights and culture, while promoting equal opportunities in education and employment and full participation in public life.

More specifically, the Minority Voices Programme aims to increase the inclusion of the perspectives and opinions of the minorities and the indigenous population in the EU media and more specifically in development issues related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Furthermore, the Minority Voices Programme promotes the awareness among development policy-makers of the various needs of minority and indigenous communities, by helping them to advocate for their own rights at a national, regional and international level.

The dedicated webpage of the organization, minorityvoices.org, is a place where both journalists and minority activists are encouraged to participate and to interact with each other. Through this page the members of minorities and indigenous communities, as well as their advocates, can upload their stories on a variety of media forms (video footage, audio, pictures, reports) and advocate for many issues, but most importantly through this page they can engage with the EU-based media, since the journalists are given the possibility to research and download all the available material (under creative commons licenses).

One very important issue that came to light thanks to the the Minority Voices Programme is the extinction of various indigenous languages in Nepal, an issue that Members of the Club de Madrid heard about first hand during a recent mission to the country. There is a gradual loss of the languages such as Kisan, Rai, Kusunda and Baram; these languages are getting replaced by the official language of Nepal, Nepali, contributing to the deterioration of the cultural heritage of various communities.

With as many as 123 dialects and languages spoken in Nepal, the Minority Voices Programme advocates for their protection and their instruction in local schools. A great majority of Nepalese children that come from different indigenous communities and linguistic minority groups encounter learning problems and perform poorly or even choose to leave school because the State has failed to recognize and cater for their diverse linguistic needs. A change in the educational system and the incorporation of all the languages of Nepal in administration and legal issues has been promoted through the Minority Voices Programme and to its ability to connect indigenous groups with the media.

Shared Societies between Jewish and Arab Citizens of Israel

Photo from The Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society

On February 2014, the Inter Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues published the report, «Shared Societies between Jewish and Arab Citizens of Israel: Visions, Realities and Practices». The report, which is presented in two parts, “is a conceptual overview of the key approaches, meanings and milestones of Shared Society work in Israel and a mapping of current government and civil society Shared Society initiatives to provide a more granular illustration of these concepts as implemented today”. Moreover, this report aims to record the attitudes and understanding of the officials in Israel, in regards to Shared Societies, as well as to evaluate the relevance of these definitions for American Jewish organizations interested in Israel, the Arab Society the relations between them.

For their research, the Inter Agency Task Force members focused on the work, the key approaches and the underlying principles of Shared Society programs developed by civil society and not for profit organizations. The author the importance and the impact that the Shared Societies Project has had so far, by stating that the “best and most concise framing of shared society itself has been articulated by the Club de Madrid“. The report listed different approaches identified as guiding each organization’s decisions and actions when advancing into a shared society:

  1. Part of Israel’s Multicultural Diversity: For some organizations the issue of Jewish-Arab Shared Society is addressed as part of the wider context of multiculturalism or diversity in Israeli society.
  2. Singular Issue: Other organizations believe that the Jewish-Arab divide is “singular” in both character and importance within Israeli society and that therefore Shared Society work should address it as a unique and particular issue.
  3. Focus on Inter-Communal Relations: Some organizations focus on creating better relations between Jewish and Arab communities or particular stakeholders within the communities (i.e. students, teachers, artists) through encounters, shared living education, and joint projects.
  4. State-Minority Relations: Other organizations believe that the focus should be placed on state-minority relations.
  5. Focus on Arab Society Internal Development / Economic Integration: Another group of organizations views the need to enhance economic development and capacities within the Arab community as a priority in working towards a shared, equal and integrated society.
  6. Inclusivity in Service Provision: A number of civil society organizations that provide services to the entire Israeli citizenry, give special attention to enhancing a Shared Society by purposefully developing specially tailored services for the Arab communities.

Additionally, the report offers a very informative list of the initiatives that have been taken both by the government of Israel has taken over the years, through the Ministry of Education as well as on local government level and  by Civil Society and readers can find a list of efforts and projects that have been taken and various ideas for follow-ups that aim to create a society that may be diverse yet inclusive.

The Club de Madrid is very encouraged to have been included as a key reference in the work of a fellow organization and encourages the Inter Agency Task Force to continue its work on the issue of social inclusion and inter-communal relations between the Jewish and Arab groups, especially as it is operating in a region where the concept of “Shared Societies” is still relatively new.

 

Photo by The Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society

Trends in Income Inequality and its Impact on Economic Growth

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At the end of 2014, the OECD published a working paper titled “Trends in Income Inequality and its impact on Economic Growth” arguing that the disparity in the distribution of incomes has been rising over the past three decades in a majority of OECD countries. Addressing income inequality and the long-term trend towards higher disparity has risen to the top of the political agenda in many countries. This is occurring partly due to growing concerns over income inequality and its impact on economy growth and on the slow pace of exiting the current economic crisis.

Following a series of analyses of these trends, the OECD examined whether rapid increase in inequality might have an effect on economic growth and on the pace of recovery from the current recession. In this sense, this paper argues that a rapid increase in income inequality has a negative and statistically significant impact on subsequent growth. In particular, what matters most is the gap between low income households and the rest of the population.

Analysis based on the OECD data suggests that redistribution policies via taxes and transfers are a key tool to ensure the benefits of growth are more broadly distributed and the results suggest they need not be expected to undermine growth. But it is also important to promote equality of opportunity in access to and quality of public services. This implies a focus on families with children and youths, promoting employment for disadvantaged groups through active labor market policies, childcare supports and in-work benefits.

As an alternative way to represent the effects of inequality by focusing on changes in individual countries, the report estimates that more than 10 percentage points have been knocked off growth by rising inequality in Mexico and New Zealand during 1990-2010. On the other hand, greater equality increased GDP per capita in Spain, France and Ireland prior to the crisis.

The OCDE working paper concluded that reducing income inequality would boost economic growth, and that countries where income inequality is decreasing grow faster than those with rising inequality. Moreover, it shows that government transfers have an important role to play in guaranteeing that low-income households do not fall further behind in income distribution. However, it should not be limited to cash transfer programs, but incorporates policies to promote and increase access to public services.

Although the report did not look at inequalities between different identity groups, we know that the most disadvantaged groups are often from a different ethnic or other identity and therefore, in overall terms, the OECD analysis is linked with the guiding principles of the Economics of Shared Societies: a society in which diverse groups and individuals are economically integrated and utilize their talents and skills tends to be more stable and enjoy higher economic growth than divided societies.

 

Photo from the Diario Do Centro do Mondo

Economic Inclusion in Action: EU Migration benefits to the UK Economy

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On 4 November 2014, UK newspaper The Independent published “EU Migrants Add £20bn to the economy in decade,” an article that explored the huge monetary benefits migrant workers added to the British economy between 2001 and 2011.

Numerically, “migrant workers from EU15 countries, which include Germany and France, paid 64% more in tax that they receive in benefits. New arrivals from Central and Easter Europe “accession” countries contributed 12% more than they took out,” confirming the assertion that migrant workers produced a significant monetary boost for the economy and rebutting the often made claim that migrants are a drain on social services.

Following the same approach in one region of the UK, the local Belfast Telegraph published “How Migrant Workers Oiled Wheels of Recovery,” an article written by Jamie Stinson on data that reinforce the increased economic and social benefits of migrant workers.

In a recent report on how migrant workers had contributed around £1.2bn to the Northern Irish economy between 2004 and 2008, Nigel Smyth, Director of the CBI in Northern Ireland, importantly remarked “economic recovery in Northern Ireland would ´grind to a halt´ without migrant workers.

Migrant workers are helping to sustain economic growth and filling labor shortages by bringing much-needed skills. In that regard, Smyth stated that “immigration is instrumental in helping many sectors of the economy, including food processing, IT, and hospitality.” Workers from overseas – accounting for 4% of the workforce, were also enriching society through cultural diversity.

By generating income, raising productivity and through their purchasing power, migrant workers are substantially contributing to the economy, and “with the UK and Northern Ireland facing the challenge of an ageing population in the years ahead, it would be extremely myopic for policy makers to ignore the overwhelming contribution migrant workers will bring to our economy.

Importantly, both articles allude to one of the fundamental components of SSP, that of total economic inclusion. As reinforced by the authors, economic inclusion strongly benefits all members of society as capacities are developed and put to use and capital, both human and financial, substantially increases. In the words of the author of The Independent article, Nigel Morris, “…so why is your Government trying to keep them out, Home Secretary?

Fostering Inclusion and Empowerment: The contribution of Women in Nagaland

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Promoting equality and social inclusion in Nagaland, India is the goal of Kheshili Chishi of the Indigenous Women´s Forum for North-East India (IWFNEI) who hosted a workshop on the role of women in peace building between tribal groups and the promotion and protection of indigenous rights for women. Speaking fervently about empowerment and the exercising of rights, Chishi focused on peace building not only in times of conflict but at all times, saying, “Simply talking is not enough unless you put yourself into action. Each one of us has to shoulder the responsibility.

Furthermore, the workshop stressed the need for equal access to healthcare and work, emphasizing the importance of women´s political participation. In doing so, the workshop also related heavily to SSP´s commitments on institutional arrangements, service provisions, and inter-community development, and is a practical example of the ideas emerging from the Women and Shared Societies Working Group on the active role women can play in overcoming intergroup conflict, all focused on creating greater social cohesion.

For more information, the full article from the Morung Express News can be found here.

Ethnic diversity as a positive element for the provision of public goods in Zambia

Tribal_Linguistic_map_Zambia

The ‘diversity debit’ hypothesis, developed in a famous article by Easterly and Levine in 1997 argues that ethnic diversity has a negative impact on social, economic, and political outcomes. According to this theory there is a negative relationship between ethnic diversity and public goods provision, due to different aspects related to the heterogeneity of the society such as: variety in ethnic group’s preference; less contribution to public goods; difficulties in solving problems that require collective action; or difficulties in governance when the elites are formed by diverse ethnic groups. The consequences of these negative relationships were in most cases low schooling and insufficient infrastructure, as well as political instability, underdeveloped financial systems, distorted foreign exchange markets, and high government deficits.

The study “Ethnic heterogeneity and public goods provision in Zambia” published by the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER)[1], challenges the ‘diversity debit’ hypothesis as it shows that ethnic fractionalization is not clearly associated with the under-provision of public goods. Instead they argued that diversity can have a rather positive relationship with key welfare outcomes. According to the authors, instead of posing the question: ‘Why does ethnic diversity undermine public goods provision,’ we should ask ourselves why does it not?

According to the study, ethnic diversity does not necessarily undermine public goods provision in those cases when ‘diversity’ is not equivalent to ‘division’. They argue that division, rather than diversity per se, is what drives the diversity debit hypothesis. Studies in those places where ethnic identity is comparatively stronger than national identity show that is in those cases when we can clearly see remarkable inequalities in public goods provisions.

Regarding the case of Zambia, in order to understand why and how diversity does not necessarily undermine public good provision is important to look at different factors such as internal migration or the role of political institutions.

The paper shows that internal migration (namely, urbanization) in Zambia is relevant to understand this issue. Between 1964 and 1990, the urban population in the country increased from 10.5 to 39.4 per cent. Those who choose to move around the country instead of staying within an ethnic enclave are likely to me more tolerant and highly educated and thus less reluctant to diversity. As a consequence, internal mobility and urbanization will result in variations of ethnic heterogeneity and in the construction of diverse communities at a sub-national level.

The findings of this study on the case of Zambia, challenging the widely accepted ‘diversity debit’ hypothesis and showing that division rather than diversity undermines the equal access to public goods provision, connects closely with the vision of the Shared Societies Project and the findings of the Working Group on the Economics of Shared Societies[i] together with the work of other researchers [ii]. Thus, the findings of this study, showing that there can be a robust positive association between diversity and key welfare outcomes resonate with the view of the Shared Societies Project: diversity is not an obstacle for justice and fair distribution of opportunities and public services, in the contrary, it can be a strength and can foster the well-being of a society, provided that all sections of the community feel at home and are able to contribute to the society.

This study shows that division, rather than diversity, is what fosters some of the main problems and inequalities in the provision of public goods. Academics and policy-makers should look at this case in order to find yet another example of the importance of inclusion in order to build truly just and shared societies.

 



[1] Rachel M. Gisselquist, Stefan Leiderer and Miguel Niño Zarazúa: Ethnic heterogeneity and public goods provision in Zambia, WIDER Working Paper 2014/162

 



[i] http://www.clubmadrid.org/img/secciones/The_Economics_of_Shared_Societies_Publication.pdf

[ii] Alesina, A. and E. La Ferrara (2005) Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance, Journal of Economic Literature 43, 3, pp. 762-800

“Birnir, J and D Waguespack “Economic Policy and Relevant Ethnic Groups.” Party Politics. 17(2): 243-260

Hall,R.and C.Jones (1999) Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?  The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 114, 1,pp.83-86

 

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