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Questions of equity and inequality have moved to the center of debates on development and poverty reduction. This reflects growing awareness that even countries with high rates of growth can experience stagnating or increasing inequality, and that inequality can itself limit the poverty reducing effects of growth. Indeed, recent work indicates that, in addition to its intrinsic value, equity should be valued for its positive impacts on growth and the poverty-reducing effects of such growth. These concerns are coupled with questions of governance. This is because institutional arrangements affect not only overall rates of growth but also the distributional effects of growth, and are themselves more or less equitable in their structure and functioning. How given institutional arrangements emerge over time, with their implications for growth and equity, remains less understood. Institutional Pathways to Equity: Addressing Inequality Traps tackles the relationship between equity and development, the place of institutions in determining these relationships, and the conditions under which particular institutional arrangements can either block or promote transitions toward more equitable forms of development. The chapters, originally commissioned as background documents for the preparation of the World Development Report 2006, are prepared by leading scholars from the fields of economics, political science, sociology, geography, and development studies.

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