Globalisation-led economic growth has led to greater convergence between countries. Within countries, however, economic, social, and political inequalities remain high or have been on the rise. The GIGA research team “Inclusive Societies” investigates, from a multidisciplinary and multiregional perspective, how access to markets and economic opportunities, political representation, and social integration can be expanded.
Our research can be grouped into three lines of inquiry:
- Economic and social inclusion: Economic and social inclusion describes both a condition by which individuals are able to participate fully in economic and social life and the processes that facilitate such a condition. In developing countries, access to well-paid jobs is limited and informal employment prevails. High-quality education is accessible only to a few, and credit is difficult to obtain. Exclusion of out-groups due to their religious beliefs, ethnic origin, or even gender is common. We examine mechanisms and interventions that lead to greater economic and social inclusion.
- Political inclusiveness: Political inclusiveness refers to equality in political participation and representation. A lack of political inclusiveness can be both a consequence and a cause of socio-economic inequality. We study problems of equitable political representation and political accountability, along with issues that arise when governance processes are captured by private interests: clientelism, corruption, and civic disengagement. In examining these issues, we analyse citizen and elite behaviour in addition to the impacts of formal institutions and informal social norms.
- Political economy of public policy: By studying the political economy of public policies, we shed light on states’ and societies’ capacity to respond to the challenge of economic and social inequality. Welfare policies – such as social security, education, healthcare, and integration of persons with disabilities – are the product of political processes that are driven by diverse interests and unequal power relations between different actors in society. Our research highlights the challenges of designing and implementing welfare policies in societies that are plagued by clientelism, corruption, and limited state capacity.
The research team brings together economists and political scientists with a broad range of methodological expertise. In our research, we have made use of field experiments, observational data, behavioural studies, and qualitative and mixed methods. We strive to bridge the gap between theory and practice by engaging both in fundamental research and in designing and testing new policy interventions that offer practical solutions. Much of our research is therefore carried out in partnership with national governments, NGOs, and international development agencies.