Columbia World Projects First Forum Report on Inequality: Unequal Opportunity

Columbia World Projects

This report is the first in a series of inequality reports to be issued by Columbia World Projects (CWP), summarizing expert discussions held on different aspects of economic inequality, in an effort to identify concrete, implementable ideas for how academics and practitioners might partner to better understand and address the challenge. CWP intends to hold a number of convenings on this subject over the next several years, given the complex and critical nature of the problems associated with inequality in the world today
This first expert discussion or “Forum” on the subject was focused on the relationship between inequality and unequal opportunity. There are certain levels of economic inequality that are so severe that they deprive people not only of a path to greater mobility, but also of a range of basic
resources – such as housing, education, labor, and health – that can close off opportunities all people should have, regardless of their level of wealth or income. Such unequal access may begin to limit an individual’s opportunities as early as when she is still in the womb and has the capacity to produce negative outcomes that last a lifetime, or even across generations. Thus, on June 19, 2018, more than 30 experts from government, multilateral institutions, nongovernmental and philanthropic organizations, the private sector, the media, and academia, among other fields, came together to discuss concrete ideas for how to make headway against unacceptable, unequal access, how to scale such solutions more broadly, and how to provide a foundation for shifts in government policy where results are proven.

The structure of this report follows the sequence of the Forum itself: It begins by summarizing the main insights on the challenge that emerged in the opening discussion (Section III); then it provides an overview of the project ideas that were discussed when the Forum’s participants broke out into thematic working groups(Section IV); and it concludes with the closing plenary, in which participants expressed their views on which ideas were most promising (Section V).


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Columbia World Projects
Columbia World Projects
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January 7, 2019