Securing Economic and Social Rights: Obstacle or Handmaiden to Growth?
Susan Randolph () and
No 26, Economic Rights Working Papers from University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute
Countries that ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights commit to devote the maximum of available resources to progressively realize the economic and social rights (ESRs) enumerated therein. A question arises as to whether countries that do so necessarily grow more slowly and accordingly whether there exists an inter-temporal trade-off between current and future ESR fulfillment. To address this question, we compare countries’ performance on the Index of Social and Economic Rights Fulfillment (the SERF Index) and component right indices with countries’ per capita income growth. Our analysis allows us to look individually at the rights to education, health, housing, food and work as well as overall ESR performance. The results are consistent with two distinct ideas. First, there exist policy contexts in which ESR and economic growth are mutually reinforcing, and second, the most promising path to realizing these synergies entails prioritizing ESR over economic growth.
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Note: Paper presented at the conference America, Human Rights and the World, Marquette University September 27-29, 2007. The idea for this paper was prompted by a one-day workshop held by the Economic Rights Group at the University of Connecticut entitled Instantiating Economic Rights. I thank ERG members for comments on this version, especially Shareen Hertel, Susan Randolph and Lyle Scruggs. I also thank David Forsythe, Richard Goldstone, Wiktor Osiatynski, and Richard Ashby Wilson for their comments.
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