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 Poster 2017


The Poverty Reduction, Equity and Growth Network (PEGNet) Conference 2017 on Understanding national inequalities and how to address them will be held in Zürich, Switzerland in cooperation with the NADEL – Center for Development and Cooperation, ETH Zürich on September, 11-12 2017.


Conference Theme 

The recent success in reducing poverty and increasing economic growth rates achieved by many developing countries has not been accompanied by a corresponding reduction in inequality. If anything, the last years have witnessed an increase in within-country inequality, notably in Asia and Africa. This trend of rising inequality has not been unique to developing countries: many OECD countries that have always had low inequality are facing a growing gap between the rich and poor.

Globalization, and accelerating technological innovation have been identified as major drivers of growing wage and income inequalities. However, the drivers are far more complex, with asset inequalities in land and human capital, differences in returns to assets, tax policies, poorly functioning markets, and/or unequal labor market opportunities linked to socio-economic characteristics all playing a major role, and in particularly in low- and middle income countries.

While the scope for redistribution by the state might be limited in most low-income countries due to a low tax base and lower administrative capacity, there is nevertheless scope for redistribution. Several developing countries have indeed managed to reduce inequalities over the last years. For example, redistributive policies have been the key drivers of declining inequality in Latin America since the mid-1990s; these policies were supported by an expansion of education to all population groups and increasing minimum wages.

Rising national inequalities hamper economic growth and/or poverty reduction and, if left unaddressed, may lead to polarization and social unrest. Recognizing this, the international community has pledged to reduce inequality within and among countries through the United Nations-backed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 stresses the importance of moving beyond traditional income measures, including political and social inequalities, with a specific focus on reducing inequalities of opportunities based on age, sex, religion, ethnicity, or origin.

A profound analysis of the drivers of inequality, social inclusion and protection policies focusing on the poor, and improved data quality and indicators to measure progress are essential to effectively reduce inequalities.

The PEGNet Conference 2017 places within-country inequality at center stage, and will provide a platform for leading development scholars and policy makers to reflect on the measurement, drivers, and consequences of national inequalities as well as policies that can be implemented to reduce them. The conference will seek to provide answers to the following questions, amongst others: In particular, but not exclusively, we invite contributions (papers and presentations of projects) that provide solutions to the following challenges and questions:


  • What measures of inequality are more pertinent for developing countries?
  • Does the current data used in developing countries provide a representative picture of inequality trends
  • Is a certain amount of inequality conducive for growth?
  • What is the role of globalization and for increasing inequalities in developing countries?
  • What is the role of land reform, educational policies, rural infrastructure and improvements of agricultural productivity for reducing inequality?
  • What role can development cooperation play in curbing rising inequality?
  • What institutional arrangements need to be put in place to close the income gap between the rich and the poor in developing countries?
  • How to design growth-and equity-enhancing tax systems?
  • What is the role of regulating global financial markets and institutions in reducing national inequalities?
  • What is the impact of structural transformation (especially; industrialization, development of services and digitalization) on inequality in developing countries?


Conference Format

The conference will provide a platform for high-level dialogue and exchange of ideas between development researchers, practitioners and policy-makers. The two conference days will feature parallel sessions based on invited and contributed papers as well as project presentations. The parallel sessions will be complemented by a debate, a round-table discussion and keynote speeches by renowned speakers from academia, economic policy and development practice.

In addition, the PEGNet Best Practice Award will be awarded for the ninth time to a project that demonstrates best practice in cooperation between researchers and practitioners. While plenary sessions will focus on the conference theme, parallel sessions and Best Practice Award projects are open to all topics surrounding PEGNet’s core theme – the nexus between poverty reduction, equity and growth.


The conference will be co-organised by the NADEL – Center for Development and Cooperation, ETH Zürich, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and supported by the KfW Development Bank.



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