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Mr. Arye L. Hillman
This paper is concerned with economic consequences of unethical governance. A framework is set out, based on principles of Friedrich Nietzsche, that ties poverty and inequality to unethical behavior of the strong toward the weak. The paper contributes to an understanding of why poverty and inequality have remained entrenched in some societies in spite of repeated programs intended to improve living standards. The purpose is to include ethics of governance, and, in particular, unethical behavior of the strong toward the weak, in preconditions for economic development.
Sriram Balasubramanian and Mr. Paul Cashin
This paper examines the origins and use of the concept of Gross National Happiness (or subjective well-being) in the Kingdom of Bhutan, and the relationship between measured well-being and macroeconomic indicators. While there are only a few national surveys of Gross National Happiness in Bhutan, the concept has been used to guide public policymaking for the country’s various Five-Year Plans. Consistent with the Easterlin Paradox, available evidence indicates that Bhutan’s rapid increase in national income is only weakly associated with increases in measured levels of well-being. It will be important for Bhutan to undertake more frequent Gross National Happiness surveys and evaluations, to better build evidence for comovement of well-being and macroeconomic concepts such as real national income.
Mr. Daouda Sembene
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have shown strong signs of growth resilience in the aftermath of the recent global crisis. Yet, this paper finds evidence that growth has more than proportionately benefited the top quintile during PRSP implementation. It finds that PRSP implementation has neither reduced poverty headcount nor raised the income share of the poorest quintile in Sub-Saharan Africa. While countries in other regions have been more successful in reducing poverty and increasing the income share of the poor, there is no conclusive evidence that PRSP implementation has played a role in shaping these outcomes.
Mr. Jonathan David Ostry and Mr. Andrew Berg
This note raises the IMF’s profile on a number of issues related to inequality, unemployment, governance, etc. It builds on earlier empirical work that examined correlations between growth downbreaks/duration of growth spells and a range of macro/policy/institutional factors. This paper is designed to be more accessible, more policy oriented, and focused squarely on the issue of inequality and the sustainability of growth. It will reference the literature that has gained prominence in the wake of the global crisis, and the possible links between the crisis and rising inequality in countries at the epicenter of the crisis. The analytical findings will also be connected to real world policy narratives in certain countries, to provide texture to the results and enhance policy relevance. The paper will argue that, based on the empirical findings, more equality in the income distribution is associated with longer-lived growth spells. Broad redistributive policies are not necessarily pro-growth, however, as these can have strong disincentive effects. The paper’s policy discussion is appropriately cautious, therefore, offering only tentative ideas, for example, active labor market policies and more attention to human capital investments designed to avoid conflicts between efficiency and equity perspectives.