Research for Development and Justice

Social exclusion: Is socio-cultural identity a barrier to poverty reduction?


29. - 30. May

Venue: CMI, Fantoftvegen 38

Erik Thorbecke is H.E. Babcock Professor of Economics & Food Economics, Emeritus, and Graduate School Professor at Cornell University.

The topic of this workshop is to discuss how socio-cultural identity, as identified by perceptions of ethnicity, religion, caste, class, race, language, tribal heritage or combinations of these, relates to economic outcomes. Discrimination and rivalry based on such identities have been widely studied both as a source of violent conflicts and as a factor explaining poor public policies and low economic growth. Some argue, however, that ethnic diversity and a favouring of individuals from one's own socio-cultural group can play a positive role in poverty reduction.

However, socio-cultural identity may also be applied as a signal in discrimination against particular groups in the job market. Such social exclusion is the focus of the workshop, and its implications for inequality and poverty reduction. Employment opportunities are found to be of major importance for people's ability to escape poverty, and discrimination in the job market can thus be one explanation for why sustained economic growth in several least developed countries during the last decade has not led to a corresponding reduction in poverty rates. We will discuss how complex relations between socio-cultural groups can partly explain why some people are excluded from new employment opportunities and discuss strategies for empirical testing of the relationships.

Erik Thorbecke will hold two lectures, "Impact of Social Exclusion on Growth, Inequality and Poverty" and "Impact of Globalization on Inequality and Poverty and Search for Pro-Poor Growth" where the latter is a public seminar 10.00 to 12.00 on 30. May.

His recent publications include:

"The Impact of Globalization on the World's Poor, Transmission Mechanisms." (with Machiko Nissanke). Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

"Poverty, Inequality, and Development Essays in Honor of Erik Thorbecke Series: Economic Studies in Inequality, Social Exclusion and Well-Being."
Vol. 1, de Janvry, Alain; Kanbur, Ravi (Eds.), 2006.

"The Impact of Globalization on the World's Poor",
Special Issue of World Development.Guest Editors Machiko Nissanke and Erik Thorbecke. Volume 34, number 8, August 2006.

"Multi-dimensional Poverty: Conceptual and Measurement Issues."
Paper prepared for The Many Dimensions of Poverty International Conference, UNDP International Poverty Centre, Brasilia, August 29-31, 2005.


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