The developer’s dilemma — structural transformation, inequality dynamics, and inclusive growth

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    Project Manager :
    Kunal Sen

    This project examines the ‘developer’s dilemma’, a tension at the heart of economic development: how are countries to manage the potential trade-off between sustaining high economic growth rates that require structural change and put upward pressure on income inequality disparities while at the same time making growth inclusive, which entails steady or even falling inequality to maximize the rate of poverty reduction.

    Within UNU-WIDER’s 2019-23 work programme, the project contributes to the immediate outcome 1: Changes in conceptual understanding, problem-recognition and discourse, and demand for policy analysis through the outputs of creating, strengthening, and exchanging knowledge in the Institute’s Theory of Change. The goal of the project is to increase understanding on structural transformation and inclusive growth among both the academia and local policymakers in low- and middle-income countries.

    The core questions of the project are: (i) What are the likely trade-offs between structural change and inclusive growth; (ii) What models of economic development are likely to ensure rapid economic growth, structural change, and poverty reduction? and (iii) How are governments to use public policy to manage the trade-off between structural change and inclusive growth?

    The main output of the project is a book addressing the structural transformation – inclusive growth relationship, which can be referred as a ‘toolbox’ for analysing the tension or trade-off between structural change and inclusive growth, especially for academics and policymakers in the countries covered by the book chapters. The book is an international endeavour, with contributors including scholars from Indonesia, China, India, Bangladesh, Ghana, South Africa, Thailand, Chile, and Brazil. In choosing the country case studies, the editors have sought to cover the different developing regions of the world and a mix of low-and middle-income developing countries.

    Upon the launch of the UNU-WIDER Work Programme 2019-2023 the research programme was divided into 6 flagship projects. Two years into the work programme these flagships have matured into several standalone projects, of which “The developer’s dilemma — structural transformation, inequality dynamics, and inclusive growth” originally under “Varieties of structural transformation” is one. As of 1 January 2021, this project has been included in Pelikan as its own entry.