We believe that high levels of multidimensional inequality undermine the purpose of development. It is time to establish new development priorities based on the principles of social justice.
Latin America is the most unequal region in the world. Reducing inequality therefore remains a major challenge. In practice, there is a strong correlation between income or consumption inequality and indicators of social well-being. Higher inequality seems to be associated with higher crime rates, social and political unrest, more frequent mental health problems and lower life satisfaction, among others. At least part of these associations seem to be causal suggesting an instrumental value to lowering inequality. On the other hand, social and distributive justice is rooted in a long tradition of political philosophy which argues that certain inequalities are morally inacceptable. Even a casual look at the inequalities faced by the majority of the population in Latin America in terms of their rights, opportunities, and well-being makes this evident.
Since the end of last century, some countries in the region –including, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay - have experienced systematic economic growth that has led to middle-income levels and poverty reduction. Still, inequalities remain extremely high. As countries aspire to close the development gap, inequalities in access to quality education, health care, safety, culture, and public spaces as well as gender, race and class disparities, among other dimensions of well-being become especially salient in light of the aggregate material improvements that a wealthy minority has accumulated.
The Center for New Development Thinking is committed to supporting research that aims to reduce multidimensional inequalities and further more equitable development.