Equity, inequality and human development in a post-2015 framework

Research reports and studies
April 2013
Claire Melamed and Emma Samman

A focus on tackling inequality ought to be central to a human development approach to the post-2015 framework. This paper will argue for an agenda which this focus features explicitly. It calls for an expansive conception of inequality across multiple dimensions of development and on multiple levels—within countries, among people regardless of where they live, and encompassing both present and future generations. Inequality could be incorporated into a post-2015 agreement in many ways, and urgent attention is needed to consider the various possibilities.

The structure of the paper is as follows. First, the paper situates equity and inequality within the capability approach, and justifies the focus on promoting greater equality in multiple dimensions—citing its intrinsic value and instrumental consequences. The paper then reviews the evidence on levels and trends of inequality among countries, among people and among generations. Next, it considers sources of inequality, and finally, it discusses possible options for reducing inequality within a post-2015 framework.