AMERICAS QUARTERLY SPECIAL
Soci al Inclusion THEINDEX
In a new regular feature, Americas Quarterly unveils a way to
measure, track and compare social inclusion in the Americas.
What really is social inclusion? From scholars to multilateral banks to President Ollanta Hum- ala of Peru, social inclusion has become the term du jour. Implicitly, most of us understand it as more than development; it includes elements of po- litical participation, social rights, civil liberties, and equal access—across race, ethnicity and gender—to social ser- vices and labor markets. If we can define it, presumably we can also measure it, or at least some components of it. There are a number of evolving and sophisticated efforts currently under way to measure elements of social inclusion. One of these is the World Bank’s excellent Human Opportunity Index that measures circumstances affecting access to goods and ser- vices (education and housing). (See www.worldbank.org/
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lacopportunity.) Yet social inclusion also contains an element of political voice and freedom that is often lacking
in more economic measures.
Here we present the results of measuring multiple dimensions of social inclusion from a series of private and
public meetings held with economists, sociologists, representatives of multilateral banks, and political scientists.
Does it include everything? Does it strive for consensus?
No and no. For this, the first cut, the point is to begin a
debate on the concrete dimensions of social inclusion,
how to measure it and where countries rank.
Every two years, we will revisit this index to track
changes in social inclusion. We will also refine it over time,
adjusting, combining and perhaps adding new variables
and countries as relevant data become available.
AMERICASQUARTERLY.ORG Y O G