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Equity The Theme Of New World Bank Development Report

The World Bank has issued its annual World Development Report, and the theme this year is “equity.” The report says equity stimulates greater and more productive investment, which leads to faster economic growth.

Francisco Ferreira is the lead author of the World Development Report. He described to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua the meaning of equity, saying, “What we mean by equity in this particular report the World Bank did is two basic things: equal opportunities and an avoidance of absolute deprivation. And what we mean by equal opportunities is that what people achieve in life should depend on their efforts and their preferences and not on the circumstances of their birth. Things like their race, gender, where they were born, family background.”

Asked whether these goals are too lofty for some countries, Mr. Ferreira replies, “Well, it’s obviously a long term proposition. And we don’t necessarily mean that next year people should have exactly equal chances in Brazil or in Ethiopia or anywhere else in the developing world. But we do want to move in that direction. Like many developed countries have done, we’d like to make opportunities available to greater and greater numbers of people in the developing world.”

The World Bank development report says equity stimulates investment. The lead author explains how. “The basic idea is that growth and development come from as many people as possible in a society being able to invest and to innovate. Now, if people who are poorer or whose parents are less educated don’t have access to schools, don’t have access to credit, don’t have access to land, they’re less able to contribute to the development of their countries…The broader opportunities are, the greater the chances people have to go get a good education, have access to a little credit to start a firm, have access to land to plant a crop, the more these people will invest and the greater the contribution to the development of their country.”