PEGNet Conference 2017

Understanding national inequalities and how to address them

11 - 12 Sep 2017

The recent success in reducing poverty and raising economic growth rates that has been 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 in Asia as well as in many parts of Africa. This trend of rising inequality has not been unique to developing countries; as currently many OECD countries that have always had low inequality are facing the largest gaps between the rich and poor.

Globalization, the switch to skill-biased technologies, along with changes in the distribution of wages and salaries have often been cited as some of the major drivers behind growing inequality. While this holds true for advanced economies, inequality within developing countries is driven by far more complex and structural processes. For instance, inequality in Africa which is highest amongst Southern African countries is a remnant of distortionary land policies that were pursued during the colonial period. Whereas, in China and India, the gains from the remarkable growth of the last decade have not been evenly shared resulting in large gaps between the rich and the poor. Other factors that have equally played a role in driving within-country inequality in developing countries include differences in education, opportunities as well as the growing rural-urban divide.

Rising inequality is not conducive to economic growth or poverty reduction and if left unaddressed, it may lead to increased polarization, social unrest as well as increased mobility. Recognizing this, the international community through the United Nations backed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has pledged to reduce inequality within and among countries. Going beyond traditional income measures, the targets of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 stress the importance of adopting a more holistic approach that will reduce inequalities based on sex, religion, ethnicity and other socioeconomic characteristics.

If reducing inequality is to be a reality, social inclusion and protection policies that focus on the bottom 40 percent of the population should be designed alongside policies that advocate for improved data quality and indicators that can be used to measure the progress. Placing within-country inequality at the center stage, the PEGNet Conference 2017 will provide a platform for leading development scholars and policy makers to reflect on the drivers, consequences and policies that can be implemented to reduce inequality. The conference will seek to provide answers to amongst others:

  • What level of inequality is more pertinent for developing countries?

  • Is a certain amount of inequality conducive for growth?

  • Does the current data used to measure inequality in developing countries really provide a representative picture of inequality trends?

  • What institutional arrangements need to be reformed in order to close the income gap between the rich and the poor in developing countries?

Invited Speakers

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 round-table discussion, a question and answer discussion with development practitioners  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 successfully combines development research and practice in its implementation.


he 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), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and supported by the KfW Development Bank.