Social inclusion and structural transformation: Concepts, measurements and trade-offs

Arjan de Haan


Social exclusion has been a growing concern in the global North and South alike. The causes of this have been the subject of much debate. This paper discusses whether structural transformation - broadly defined as the economic and technological changes that have a major impact on societies' livelihoods - play a role in this. For this, the paper explains what social inclusion is, how it is defined and measured, and how thinking on the relationship between social inclusion and structural transformation has evolved in the classic social science. The paper warns against simplifying conclusions about the way structural transformations impact social inclusion. With respect to the rising inequalities of the last 20 years, also, the (limited) data suggest mixed trends with respect to social inclusion. Insights from social science analysis indicate that effects can be mediated, that technologies are given meaning, and that societies create institutions in response to structural changes that threaten cohesion or identity.

Key words: social inclusion, structural transformation, and industrialisation

JEL Classification: 033, 014, 015