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Guest post by Andy Norman. This blog was originally posted on

Inclusiveness is a concept that is popping up more and more in policy debates. The growing calls for inclusive growth represent a welcome move away from the growth-only paradigm that was suffocating development discourse. But what does it really mean?

Here’s the OECD talking about how to make growth inclusive in the UK and here’s (PDF) the World Economic Forum’s “Inclusive Growth and Development Report 2015”. There is even, bizarrely, a MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth & Financial Inclusion.

Inclusive growth is actually rather a slippery concept, with a universally accepted definition proving exasperatingly elusive. Every institution and commentator under the sun seems to define it slightly differently, as shown in this handy table I’ve taken from a working paper (PDF) by the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth:

In another post, I argued for a multidimensional definition of poverty. As inclusive growth is deeply linked to poverty, I believe it also needs to be defined in multidimensional terms. And so, it seems fair to say it is both an economic and a social concept, intimately related to a number of human and social development indicators as well as to the general promotion of fairness and opportunity in the pursuit of a broadly egalitarian society. I realise this is rather a long-winded definition, but some concepts demand long-winded definitions.

Long before it was fashionable, India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, eloquently captured the essence of inclusive growth. In his famous ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech to the Constituent Assembly on the eve of Independence in 1947, Nehru spoke of India’s quest for the “ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity”. When Tanzania achieves this kind of development, then perhaps we can say that it’s growth has been truly inclusive.

One Comment, RSS

  • Mary pat fuchs

    says on:
    August 31, 2016 at 2:46 am

    Well written… Although for me loaded with big words and some topical catch phrases, as you pointed out. In my mind – if what a group does, directly affects the “small people” for the positive (i.e. empowering and educating the people for long term and continued sustainability) than I say YES. And I believe, (and have seen), this is what Seed Change has done and is continuing to do. Way to go !!!! (The only way to go forward.)

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