Social Exclusion and Political Change BY HAUKE HARTMANN AND DANIEL SCHRAAD-TISCHLER
vercoming widespread poverty and inequality is not
just a moral imperative. It
is key to political and economic development. Social exclusion acts as a drag
on sound and sustainable
economic growth by preventing large segments of the population from fully contributing to
the formal economy. And even if formal political rights exist on paper, social exclusion fundamentally undermines meaningful political participation.
Social exclusion leads to de facto disfranchisement, deprives individuals and groups of equal opportunities to
voice opinions, organize and campaign, and precludes
meaningful political activity for some segments of society.
While the connection between social exclusion and
the quality of a political regime is hardly disputable, the
correlation between social exclusion and the stability of
political regimes is the focus of increasing debate.
Does the increase in social exclusion or its persistence lead to political instability? Two indices published
regularly by Bertelsmann Stiftung, a private, independent German foundation and think tank, have started
to look at this question. We use a database of the status of political and economic reform and the quality of
governance in 128 developing countries (the Transformation Index of the Bertelsmann Foundation—BTI) 1
and an evaluation of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country reform and
challenges (the Sustainable Governance Indicators—
SGI) 2 that evaluates the governments’ ability to respond
to current social, political and economic challenges.
Together, both indices cover policy results and man-
agement achievements in 151 countries. They are based
on the work of nearly 400 country and regional experts who evaluate political and economic governance,
with scores ranging from 1 (very weak) to 10 (very good).
(For more on these indices and their methodology visit
We start by looking at social exclusion. Despite perceptions to the contrary, the world is not sig- nificantly less socially inclusive than six years
ago. Even in countries where exclusion has increased,
many governments have adapted.
During the past two years, poverty and inequality
increased in 17 countries but decreased in 10 countries.
In other words, in almost four-fifths of all countries assessed, the socioeconomic conditions remained largely
WHO HAS GOTTEN WORSE IN SOCIAL EXCLUSION?
- 2.00 - 1. 67 - 1. 33 - 1.00 - 1.00 -0.67 -0.67 -0.67 -0.67 -0.67 -0.67 -0.67 -0.67 -0.67 -0.67
SOU TH KOREA
CÔ TE D’IVOIRE
E T HIO PIA
G UIN E A
N A M IBIA
SE NEG AL
Data reflect the change observed based on a 10-point scale.
Americas Quarterly SPRING 2012