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Economic Rights, Human Development Effort and Institutions

Mwangi Kimenyi

No 2005-40, Working papers from University of Connecticut, Department of Economics

Abstract: This paper focuses on the link between economic rights and institutions. Simple analysis of data is used to demonstrate countries' human development effort in advancing economics rights of the citizens. A country's human development effort is evaluated on the basis of the well-being of the poorest members of the society. An analysis of data reveals that there is a wide variation in countries' pro-poor stance. While it is accepted that positive rights are pro-poor, this paper argues that so too are negative economic rights and in fact the two are complements rather than substitutes. Classifying countries into human development income deficit and human development effort deficit, it is demonstrated that a large number of countries could achieve higher welfare levels for the poor if they improved on bother positive and negative economic rights. The paper attempts to explain variations in the observed commitment to economic rights by focusing on pro-poor institutions. The basic thesis advanced in the paper is that pro-poor policies are more likely to be implemented and sustained in those institutions where power is sufficiently diffused such that even the poor have leverage over policy outcomes. The paper focuses on how institutions impact on power diffusion and therefore the adoption of pro-poor growth and policies. The failure of countries to adopt pro-poor growth and policies is attributed to institutional failures manifested in concentration of power. The policy recommendations emanating from the analysis focus on institutional reforms to enhance power diffusion. These policies include enlarging the political space through democratization, strengthening institutions and capacity to fight corruption and improve transparency, and bringing the government closer to the people through appropriate design and implementation of decentralization schemes. Some recent examples of improvements in economic rights following power diffusion are provided.

JEL-codes: I30 I31 O15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 66 pages
Date: 2005-10
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-dev, nep-pke and nep-pol
Note: Paper prepared for presentation at the Economics Rights Conference organized by the Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut, October 27-29, 2005. An earlier version of this paper entitled "Institutions of Governance, Power Diffusion and Pro-Poor Growth and Policies," was presented at a Senior Policy seminar organized by African Economic Research Consortium, March 22-24, 2005, Cape Town, South Africa. I am grateful to members of the Economic Rights Reading Group for helpful comments and suggestions.
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (3)

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