Horizontal inequalities

by Frances Stewart

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This article by Frances Stewart features in the World Social Science Report on Inequality (2016). Stewart explains what horizontal inequalities are and why they are important. She argues that horizontal inequalities – group inequalities in a wide range of political, economic and cultural dimensions – are not only unjust, but may lead to violent conflict and can reduce the efficiency of resource allocation as well as lessening societal achievements on health and education. Most horizontal inequalities emerge from historical biases, often as a result of colonialism. They tend to persist over many generations because of manifold connections between dimensions of deprivation and privilege. The article briefly reviews policies aimed at reducing horizontal inequalities, differentiating between direct (or targeted) and indirect (or universal) policies.

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