What is inclusive development?

In many ways, contemporary public policies are determined by economic rationality. Thus, the idea of development is often reduced to economic development which is mainly understood as growth of per capita income. This is partly due to the ability of a relatively young scientific discipline, Development Economics, that emerged after the World War II, to inform and influence developmental policies around the world. It aimed at a kind of development that would enable nations to expand their outputs at a rate faster than the growth rate of their populations. For this to be achieved, changes in the structure of production and employment were essential. With few exceptions, development was until recently seen as an economic phenomenon in which rapid gains in gross national income growth would ‘trickle down’ to the masses in the form of jobs or other economic opportunities, or create preconditions for distribution of economic and social benefits of the growth. Social development was a secondary goal. Some contemporary applied approaches to development (i.e. the World Bank) still maintain divide between economic and social development, considering the first as dominant while the second is focused on poverty reduction and development of human resources, that are mostly instrumental for the economic development.

Although it is now placed in the center of economic thinking, the idea of development is deeply rooted in modern social sciences. Ninetieth century, marked by the rise industrial capitalism, imperial conquest and colonization, was followed by social theories which perceived societies as changing, evolving and advancing. The idea of development was in that initial stage often linked to the idea of progress, which had different meanings for different theoreticians. For Comte, the ‘father of sociology’, the progress meant the evolution from theological stage, in which people were adopting view of the world of their ancestors, believing in supernatural powers, through metaphysical, towards positive stage in which rationality and science were governing peoples’ views of the world and behaviors. For Durkheim, development was not identified with progress, but with increase of complexity of societies. Increase of complexity in social structures and functions changed societies from less complex to modern, complex industrial ones and required new forms of social integration, and when these forms were not provided societies would experience social anomies.

The idea of development as progress lead to development (and dominance) of theory of modernization during 20th Century and beliefs that it development should be managed and designed by governments through policies.

Marx early emphasized the importance of social structures and relations (ownership over means of production and distribution of power) for development, both within societies and internationally, among states. His approach influenced later thinkers of development including Dependency theorists who were critical towards modernization approach and mainstream development economics.

In our understanding, the idea of development ought not to be reduced to economic growth but it should include wider aspects of social development. We comprehend development as expansion of life opportunities, freedoms, quality of life and social security for all people. Economic development is instrument to this end, but it will not bring these outcomes alone. For that we need various public policies which should ensure that economic development contributes to social development. Development is understood as multifaceted process involving changes in social structures, values, norms, attitudes, and institutions. Development is the reduction of inequality and elimination of poverty, on global scale, as much as economic growth. Inclusive development means that all people have chances to shape and participate in these processes as well as to enjoy the benefits of it. We adopt the principles of human development approach(Sen, XX), that sees development as freedom of choices and capability of individuals to develop their full potentials. But we also see development as interaction between people, societies and nature, interaction which is mutually beneficial. This means that through this interaction people should be able to achieve their personal and development of their societies using nature in way that does not undermine its sustainability.

Based on this understanding, we designed methodology for monitoring development trends in Serbia along the following dimensions: economic development, social inclusion, the rule of law, gender equality, culture and environmental protection. Each dimension is monitored through a set of key indicators. Indicators are selected under restricted opportunities to provide longitudinal and comparative official statistical data for Serbia and other countries, since the idea was to monitor development in Serbia in comparison to the Western Balkan region, EU or other regions of the world. All dimensions and indicators are explained in the respective sections (see Trends part).

In addition to the selection of indicators based on our conceptual approach, we also monitor trends in Human Development as well as the achievements in UN Sustainable Development Goals, which guide developmental policies within the UN 2030 global development agenda.