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Tracking the Historical Evolution of States’ Compliance with their Economic and Social Rights Obligations of Result – Insights from the Historical SERF Index

Susan Randolph, Associate Professor, University of Connecticut, susan.randolph@uconn.edu.

Patrick Guyer, Chief Statistician, Measure of America, a Project of the Social Science Research Council, guyer@ssrc.org.

  • Side: 297-323
  • Publisert på Idunn: 2012-12-19
  • Publisert: 2012-12-19

Countries that ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ICESCR, commit to utilise the ‘maximum of [their] available resources with a view to achieving progressively the full realization’ (art 2) of the economic and social rights enumerated in the Covenant. The Social and Economic Rights Fulfillment Index, SERF Index developed by Randolph, Fukuda-Parr and Lawson-Remer (Fukuda-Parr et al 2009, Randolph et al 2010) utilises a unique methodology that benchmarks a country’s level of obligation by rigorously mapping what is feasible to achieve using best practice for countries with different resource capacities. This paper adapts the SERF Index to track countries’ progress over the past several decades in meeting this commitment. The analysis shows there has been an overall improvement in the extent to which countries are fulfilling their economic and social rights commitments, albeit with setbacks for many countries. This paper then addresses the question of whether countries face a trade-off between fulfilling economic and social rights today and stimulating per capita income growth and accordingly, their capacity to fulfil economic and social rights in the future. Our results show that there is considerable compatibility between fulfilling economic and social rights and promoting economic growth.

Keywords: Human Rights, Economic and Social Rights, Progressive Realisation, Economic Growth, Economic Development, Human Capabilities.

 

I. Introduction1

This paper introduces the Historical Social and Economic Rights Fulfillment (SERF) Index. The Historical SERF Index adapts the methodology developed by Randolph, Fukuda-Parr, and Lawson-Remer2 to examine trends according to the extent to which countries have met their obligations of result under the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).3 Other approaches used to monitor countries’ compliance with their obligations of result consider only the level of rights enjoyment. However, the ICESCR’s “principle of progressive realization” specifies that a country’s level of obligation depends on its resource capacity and that countries must fulfil economic and social rights to the ‘maximum of [their] available resources’.4 A country with a lower resource capacity has a lower level of obligation so that a given level of rights enjoyment may be consistent with fully meeting its obligations of result, while the same level of rights enjoyment in a richer country will imply it is seriously deficient in meeting its obligations.

The SERF Index methodology allows us to assess a country’s compliance with its obligations of result while taking into account both the extent to which the substantive economic and social rights enumerated in the ICESCR are enjoyed and the extent of a country’s level of obligation to ensure each substantive right. The key innovation of the SERF Index methodology is the specification of Achievement Possibility Frontiers (APFs), which rigorously map what is feasible to achieve using best practice for countries with different resource capacities. Thus, the Historical SERF Index allows us to address the twin aspects of the ICESCR’s “principle of progressive realization”:

  1. The extent to which a country is ensuring the level of rights enjoyment that is reasonably feasible given its resource capacity at any given time,

  2. Whether a country is improving its performance over time, relative to its expanding resource capacity.

The Historical SERF Index also identifies those countries that are likely to have violated the principle of non-retrogression. Finally, the Historical SERF Index allows us to learn whether countries face a trade-off between fulfilling economic and social rights today and stimulating per capita income growth and, accordingly, their capacity to fulfil economic and social rights in the future.

This paper is organised as follows. The following section (section II) summarises the basic SERF Index methodology and explains how the SERF Index is adapted in light of the limitations of available data covering the past forty years. Section III then examines trends in the average achievement of countries on the composite Historical SERF Index and its underlying component right indices. The fourth section probes deeper and considers the variation in performance across countries, identifying instances where the ICESCR’s “principle of non-retrogression” has been violated as well cases of exceptional performance. A key question, that the fifth section then addresses, is whether countries that emphasise devoting current resources to meeting their economic and social rights (ESR) commitments do so at the expense of generating additional resources that could enable even greater ESR enjoyment in the future. The final section (section VI) provides some concluding observations.

II. The SERF Index Methodology and Construction of the Historical SERF Index

The principle of progressive realisation enunciated in article 2.1 of the ICESCR requires countries to commit the maximum of their available resources to fulfil their economic and social rights obligations. Thus, in assessing the extent to which countries meet their obligations of result one needs to assess the level of rights enjoyment relative to the level of the country’s obligation. Socio-economic indicators are now readily available for the vast majority of countries, which can be used to specify the extent to which a country’s people enjoy relevant aspects of the substantive rights enumerated in the ICESCR. Specifying a country’s level of obligation has proven more problematic. It necessitates that a different level of obligation be specified for each country at any given time, in accordance with each country’s resource capacity at that time.

In practice, the monitoring body of the ICESCR, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), evaluates a country’s performance with regard to its obligations of result on the basis of the country’s achievement in terms of relevant socio-economic indicators, reflecting rights enjoyment relative to benchmarks or targets. Although the CESCR does expect more of states with greater resources, the countries themselves enjoy considerable discretion over precisely where their benchmarks are set. Evidence-based conceptual models have the potential to guide the setting of benchmarks, but, in the development field, debates remain concerning the appropriate models for realising different development objectives that match rights, and calculations of resource costs can differ dramatically.5 In the absence of an evidence-based conceptual model of what can reasonably be achieved by countries with different resource capacities, as Omani points out, countries are able to set low benchmarks that effectively allow them to avoid meeting their commitment to provide the highest level of rights enjoyment feasible within the constraints of their current resource capacity.6 A ‘scoping’ process, whereby the CESCR would have greater input on the specification of benchmarks to ensure they reflect what is reasonably feasible is one potential solution to countries availing themselves of this “escape hatch”. However, as Chapman laments, the CESCR has neither resources to pay for the necessary independent economic analyses required, nor the time and expertise to undertake the necessary analyses themselves, nor have states embraced any such scoping process.7 The SERF Index methodology provides a solution to this problem.

The key innovation of the SERF Index methodology8 is the construction of an Achievement Possibility Frontier (APF) for each relevant socio-economic indicator, which benchmark’s the level of achievement feasible for any level of resources. In so doing, it helps close the aforementioned “escape hatch”. Here we briefly summarise how the Achievement Possibility Frontiers are constructed and used to specify the extent to which a country is fulfilling its obligations of result with regard to any given aspect of a substantive economic or social right.

Achievement Possibility Frontiers and Performance Indicator Scores

Achievement Possibility Frontiers (APFs) are specified for relevant socio-economic indicators by first constructing a scatter plot of achievement on the indicator against per capita GDP (measured in constant purchasing power parity dollars, PPP$), our indicator of resource capacity, using data from all countries spanning the period 1990-2008 as in Figure 1. Frontier observations, the observations lying on the outer envelope of the scatter, are then identified, and econometric techniques are used to fit a curve to these boundary observations. For example, since children who do not have access to sufficient micro and macro-nutrients become stunted (short height for age), the percentage of children under five who are not stunted can be used as an indicator of the enjoyment of the right to food. Figure 1 shows the scatter of observations (black ovals) for all countries over the period in question on this indicator against the country’s per capita GDP (2005 PPP$) at the time of the observation. The fitted Achievement Possibility Frontier (depicted by the larger, lighter circles) shows the level of achievement on the indicator that is feasible using best practices consistent with country experience at any given level of resource capacity.

Figure 1: Achievement possibilities frontier—percentage of children that do not have stunted growth

Separate APFs are fitted to each indicator selected to measure a relevant aspect of rights enjoyment. The Achievement Possibility Frontiers for different indicators increase at different rates as per capita income rises, reflecting differences in the feasibility of transforming resources into the enjoyment of the different right aspects. They also peak at different per capita income levels, indicating that it is feasible to completely fulfil some aspects of some rights at lower per capita income levels than it is others. In essence, the frontiers map the rate at which it is feasible to transform resources into the enjoyment of the various right aspects. The APFs assume that the knowledge of the policies and practices for transforming resources into rights enjoyment is stable over the medium term for each selected indicator. The fact that the boundary observations defining the frontier span the data range used to construct the frontiers (1990 to 2008) provides assurance that this assumption is reasonable over the 1990 to 2008 period.9

A country’s level of obligation at a given time, with regard to any given aspect of a right (in the above example, access to food with sufficient macro and micro-nutrients), is then measured as the frontier value of the relevant APF at the country’s per capita GDP level at the time. The striking variation in rights enjoyment levels among countries with similar per capita GDP levels reveals the substantial difference in the extent to which countries fulfil the different aspects of the substantive rights “to the maximum of [their] available resources” as obligated under article 2.1 of the ICESCR. A ‘performance indicator score,’ P, for a given country and time period is calculated as the ratio of the country’s score on the indicator at a given time (in the above example, the percentage of children in the country that are not stunted), call it I, to the value of the APF for the country’s per capita GDP level in the year concerned, call it F. Thus,

P = I / F

So for example, if a country with a per capita income level of $10,000 (2005 PPP$) achieved a score of 72 % of children who are not stunted, and the APF value for $10,000 were 90 % of children not stunted, its performance indicator score would be calculated as (72/90) = 80 %. Adjustments to this score are made to normalise the observed range of scores across indicators and to penalise countries with more than sufficient income to reach the maximum feasible score on an indicator but which still fail to do so.10

Indicators of the Rights Enjoyment Level

The ICESCR, along with the CESCR’s General Comments, enumerate seven substantive economic and social rights – the right to education, health, food, housing, work, water, and social security, with the right to water also featuring as an aspect of the rights to housing, food and health.11 Within the constraints of available data, we select socio-economic indicators reflecting the most relevant attributes of each substantive right to measure the level of rights enjoyment. Beyond concept validity, a number of additional criteria governed our choice of indicators, including data reliability, public accessibility, comparability across countries and over time, and whether the indicator was based on objective information (as opposed to subjective judgment) and generated using a transparent methodology. We also sought to identify indicators that tend to reflect the performance of multiple aspects of a right, so called “bellwether indicators”.

Ultimately, indicator selection involved striking a balance between country coverage both within and across time periods, the most relevant challenges to fulfilling a given right, and whether the indicator captures variation in achievement across countries. Since high-income OECD countries collect different data and have faced different challenges with regard to fulfilling ESR over the past few decades, as is the case for the cross-sectional SERF Index, we specify two separate Historical SERF Indices: one for most countries (our Core Historical SERF Index), and a Supplemental SERF Index (for high-income OECD countries). Table 1 shows the indicators used to measure each right for both variants of the Historical SERF Index. Data limitations precluded our taking the right to social security into account, and, in the case of our Supplemental Index, the right to housing could not be taken into account either. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, the right to water is incorporated as a key aspect of the right to housing rather than a separate right. As Table 1 shows, in the case of some rights, multiple indicators are selected to track different aspects of the right concerned; while, for other rights, only a single indicator is selected. This reflects both the limitations of available data series and the availability of “bellwether indicators” capturing multiple aspects of a right. A detailed discussion of the indicator selection is available in previously published work.12 Here, we simply provide an overview.

Table 1: Historical SERF Index indicators of rights enjoyment level by right

Social or Economic Right

Core Historical SERF Index

Supplemental High-income OECD Country Historical SERF Index

Right to Food

Stunting rate (100 – % low height for age)

Normal birth weight rate (100 – % newborns < 2500 grams)

Right to Education

Primary school completion rate; Gross secondary school enrolment rate;

Gross secondary school enrolment rate

Right to Health

% Child (under 5) survival rate; Life expectancy at birth;Contraceptive Use Rate

% Child (under 5) survival rate; Life expectancy at birth

Right to Adequate Housing

% Population with access to improved water source % Population with access to improved sanitation

Data not available

Right to Decent Work

% Not absolutely poor (% with income ≥ $2 per day, 2005 PPP$)

% Not relatively poor (% with income > 50 % of median income); % Unemployed not long-term (>12 months) unemployed

Three indicators are used to reflect enjoyment of the right to health for core countries: the under-five child survival rate; life expectancy at birth; and the contraceptive use rate. The under-five child survival rate captures children’s access to preventative and curative healthcare as well as other aspects of child health. Life expectancy at birth expands the focus to include adult access to preventative and curative health, along with other factors influencing adult health. The contraceptive use rate specifically focuses on access to reproductive health inputs and care. In the case of high-income OECD countries, only the first two indicators are incorporated: the contraceptive use rate is not tracked. The specific focus on reproductive health care was considered less critical given the broad access to contraception and reproductive health inputs and care in high-income OECD countries. Two indicators are selected to reflect enjoyment of the right to education for core countries: the primary school completion rate (capturing the minimum core content of the right), and the gross secondary school enrolment rate (reflecting fulfilment of the right to education extending beyond the minimum core content).13 The fact that compulsory primary school education is specifically mentioned in the ICESCR was a central reason for selecting the primary school completion rate over the literacy rate. The primary school completion rate is not included in the index for high-income OECD countries since primary school completion is essentially universal among high-income OECD countries. Although we would have preferred to use the combined school enrolment rate rather than the gross secondary school enrolment rate for both the core and Supplementary Index, historical data on this indicator was far more spotty. General Comment 4 defines adequacy with regard to the right to housing to include the ‘availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure’; water and sanitation are central among these.14 Our indicators of the right to housing for core countries are comprised of the percentage of the population with access to an improved water source and the percentage of the population with access to improved sanitation. Access to clean water is also a right in itself (as previously noted) and is therefore incorporated within the context of the right to housing.

The right to food entails access to both adequate macro-(calories) and micro-nutrients. Both macro and micro nutrient deficiencies result in children’s growth being stunted. Households protect children’s nutrition so that the rates of children with stunted growth are also a measure of severe insecurity of access to sufficient food among all household members. Accordingly, the percentage of children that are not stunted is selected as a “bellwether indicator” for the right to food for core countries. Data on the rate of children with stunted growth are not tracked for high-income OECD countries. Given the link between low birth rates and poor nutrition of mothers, the percentage of infants that do not have low birth weight is adopted as the indicator for the right to food for our Supplementary Index for OECD countries. Access to work; conditions of work; and remuneration from work are all aspects of the right to work. In developing countries, social security systems only reach a small percentage of the population at best. As a result absolute poverty primarily reflects a lack of access to productive and remunerative work, and, regrettably, the number of people living below the international two-dollars-a-day poverty line remains high. Accordingly, we adopt the two-dollars-a-day poverty line as our “bellwether indicator” of the right to work for the core SERF Index. For high-income OECD countries, lack of access to decent work is better reflected by long term unemployment and relative poverty; these indicators are accordingly selected for such countries.

As our Historical SERF Index looks back to the decade of the 1970s, we are unable to take advantage of several desirable series used in the cross-sectional SERF Index. In particular, we were unable to include our indicator of the quality of schooling for high-income OECD countries, achievement on tests administered by the Programme for International Student Assessment. When assessing enjoyment of the right to housing, we had to substitute the percentage of total population with access to an improved water source for the more discriminating percentage of the rural population with access to an improved water source. Finally, with regard to the right to health, life expectancy at birth was substituted for the percentage of the population expected to survive to sixty-five years of age. As is the case with the cross-sectional SERF Index, gaps remain in the right aspects incorporated in our historical SERF Index. No internationally comparable data series exists to cover relevant aspects of the right to housing, such as the security, tenure, affordability, or habitability of housing. Although internationally comparable data on the quality of schooling are increasingly available, coverage remains limited, with the exception of the last decade or so for high-income OECD countries. Furthermore, available indicators often lack the sensitivity and focus ideally desired. For example, as noted by Bartram, the access standard used for the internationally comparable data on access to an improved water source does not ensure that water is available at home, or that it is actually safe to drink.15

From Performance Indicator Scores to Right Indices and the Composite SERF Index

When only a single indicator is used to assess enjoyment of a substantive right, the adjusted performance indicator score is itself the right index. So, for example, in the case of our Core Historical SERF Index, the adjusted performance indicator score for the percentage of children that do not have stunted growth is at the same time the Core Historical Right to Food Index. When multiple indicators are used to reflect enjoyment of a substantive right, the average of the adjusted performance indicator scores concerned constitutes the Right Index. So for example, in the case of the Core Historical SERF Index, the Core Historical Right to Education Index is the average of the adjusted performance indicator scores for the primary school completion rate and the gross secondary school enrolment rate. The aggregate Historical SERF Index (both Core and Supplemental) is itself the weighted average of the component right indices.16 Figure 2 schematically demonstrates the construction of the Historical SERF Index. For our purposes here, we set the weights to all equal 1 so that the Historical SERF Index becomes the simple average of the component right indices.

Figure 2: Construction of the SERF Index

We compute the Historical SERF Index for four separate decades, or waves as we call them. The decade of the 1970s covers the period 1971-1980, that for the 1980s covers the period 1981 to 1990, and so on. Country observations on the indicators used to construct the Historical SERF Index are generally not available for every year; also, the year for which data on a particular indicator is available differs by country. In constructing the Historical SERF Index, as far as possible, we select the observation on each indicator that falls as close as possible to around the middle of the decade, to the “5’s” — 1975, 1985, 1995, 2005 — thereby resulting in a single observation for each decade.

In the sections that follow, we consider the extent to which commitments to progressively realise economic and social rights have been met. The Historical SERF Index allows us to consider two important but distinct aspects of progressive realisation. Firstly, at any given time, is a country fulfilling its economic and social rights obligations of result to the maximum of its available resources? Secondly, are countries fulfilling their obligations of result to an increasing extent over time, to the same extent over time, or is the principle of non-retrogression being violated?

III. Global Performance and Trends

The overall picture is that on average countries are meeting their commitments to fulfil economic and social rights to an increasing extent. However, a great deal of progress still remains to be made. Figure 3 tracks the average score on the Core Historical SERF Index and the Core Historical Component Right Indices for all countries with data for the particular wave concerned.17 With regard to the aggregate Core Historical SERF Index and the Core Historical Right to Work Index, the average country score is shown only for the decades of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s (Waves 2, 3, and 4), as not enough countries have sufficient data to compute the index for the decade of the 1970s. The average score on the aggregate Core Historical SERF Index rose from 63.1 to 72.8 between 1985 and 2005, with the pace of improvement accelerating somewhat over the last decade. On average, the core countries scored highest on the Right to Work Index. Nevertheless, this is the one index that failed to show consistent improvement across the decades: the average score fell three points between 1985 and 1995, this then recovered but still did not surpass its 1985 value in 2005. The standard for decent work implicit in the Right to Work Index is the bare minimum requirement for human dignity; yet, by 2005, countries on average only provided minimally decent work to three quarters of those that they feasibly could, given the resources available.

Figure 3: Average score on core historical SERF Index and component right indices: countries with data for any wave

Core countries dramatically improved the extent to which they met their commitments to fulfil their citizen’s and resident’s rights to education and housing; the same rights that, in 1975, they were most deficient in fulfilling. The average score on the Core Historical Right to Education Index increased from 35 to 72 between 1975 and 2005, while the average for the Core Historical Right to Housing Index rose from 48 to 75 over the same period. Progress in fulfilling the rights to health and food increased in tandem, rising quite rapidly between 1975 and 1985, but at a slower pace thereafter.18 The average score on the Core Historical Right to Health Index rose from 56 to 75 between 1975 and 2005, while the average score for the Core Historical Right to Food Index rose from 57 to 74 in the same period. Although consistent progress was made regarding the extent to which countries met their commitments to fulfil the rights to health, education, housing and food across the four waves, with the exception of the right to housing, progress slowed between 1985 and 1995. Overall there is convergence when it comes to the extent to which countries are fulfilling the different substantive economic and social rights. Nevertheless, countries continue to be doing substantially less than that which is reasonably feasible. On average, countries could feasibly increase their scores on each of the component right indices by a third.

High-income OECD countries had a considerably higher SERF Index score forty years ago than core countries: roughly 80 % versus 60 %. Yet although they too experienced progress over the subsequent forty years, they only increased their absolute score by half as much. That is, although high-income OECD countries witnessed increased enjoyment of economic and social rights, the gains (relative to what they feasibly could have been considering the extent to which their resource base expanded) were smaller than they were in the case of the core countries. To an important extent, this reflects high levels of achievement on some basic rights. High-income OECD countries are currently approaching 100 % achievement in meeting their obligations of result, with regard to the basic aspects of the rights to education, health and food, incorporated in the Supplemental Historical SERF Index. Figure 4 shows the trend in the Supplemental Historical SERF Index along with the trend in the component right index scores, for all high-income OECD countries with data.19

Figure 4: Average score on supplemental historical SERF index and component right indices: high income OECD countries with data for any wave

The variation in performance across rights was greater at the outset (forty years ago) for high-income OECD countries than for core countries. However, as was the case for core countries, the greatest gains are observed in the right to education. On average, the score on the Supplemental Historical Right to Education Index increased nearly 35 percentage points between 1975 and 1995; the pace then decelerated such that, from 1995 and 2005, the gain was a mere 2 percentage points. One could well argue that, given the high level of achievement on the Supplemental Right to Education Index by 1995 (which averaged 95 %), the fall in the rate of gain is to be expected. However, even if one enriches the index to include information on the quality of education, by incorporating country scores on an indicator of the quality of education, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the average gain between 1995 and 2005 is still minimal.20 Furthermore, upon doing so, the average score falls nearly 10 percentage points indicating challenges remain when it comes to fully realising the right to education in high-income OECD countries.

The rise in the Supplemental Historical SERF Index over the forty years in question reflects the substantial gains in education to an important degree. Unarguably, progressive realisation is the norm for the right to health, but unsurprisingly given the fairly high initial score on the index, the gains were small: the Supplemental Right to Health Index rose from 93 % to 96 % over these forty years. However, high-income OECD countries regressed with regard to the right to food and the right to work: over the 40 years, the average score on the Supplemental Right to Food Index fell slightly (from 97 % to 95 %), while the Supplemental Right to Work Index fell markedly (from 75 % to 61 %). Although in 1975 high-income OECD countries were most deficient in terms of fulfilling their obligations of result with regard to the right to education, by 2005, the greatest deficiency was observed for the right to work. Fulfilling commitments to ensure the right to work emerged as the greatest challenge for high-income OECD countries.

IV. Variation in Performance Across Countries

On average and in the aggregate, both core and high-income OECD countries not only increased the level of economic and social rights enjoyment, they also expanded the level of rights enjoyment more rapidly than their capacity to fulfil rights increased. That is to say, they progressively realised their economic and social rights obligations of result in the full sense of the term. This achievement implies that the substantial rise in the global average per capita income level and (accordingly) countries’ capacity to fulfil economic and social rights was increasingly directed towards fulfilling economic and social rights. The average trends, however, mask wide variation in performance across countries.

Countries in Europe and Central Asia tend to score highest on the Core Historical SERF Index and underlying component right indices, with those in Sub-Saharan Africa scoring lowest. The latter is of particular concern since it implies that, despite the lower level of obligation in the face of their lower resource capacity, the extent to which Sub-Saharan African countries fulfil their obligations of result has decreased — a double loss in the extent to which people living in this region enjoy basic economic and social rights. This is not to say that countries in Europe and Central Asia uniformly meet their commitment to fulfil basic economic and social rights to a greater extent than those in Sub-Saharan Africa do. Nor is it to say that there has been less progress over time in all Sub-Saharan Africa countries. There is wide variation in the level and trend in performance within regions. Take the case of performance on the Core Historical Right to Education Index within Sub-Saharan Africa, for example (Figure 5). By 1985, Mozambique achieved over 90 % of the feasible value given its resource capacity, only to then dramatically regress to a level just half of that score. Yet Malawi, on the other hand, showed steady progress: raising its score from less than 30 % of the feasible value to over 80 % of the feasible value. Lesotho’s score barely moved over the forty years and wavered around 55 % of the feasible value.

Figure 5: Variation in performance on core historical right to education index within region

The principle of non-retrogression as referenced in CESCR’s General Comment 3 on the nature of state’s obligations, prohibits states undertaking any deliberately retrogressive measure.21 Specifically, paragraph 10 states;

Any deliberately retrogressive measures in that regard would require the most careful consideration and would need to be fully justified by reference to the totality of the rights provided for in the covenant and in the context of the full use of the maximum available resources (emphasis added).

Clearly, if a state takes specific identifiable and deliberate actions that reduce rights enjoyment, their conduct is in violation of the principle of non-retrogression (unless they can defend such actions). However, declines in levels of rights enjoyment also offer evidence of a state’s likely violation of the principle of non-retrogression. In discussing the principle of non-retrogression in the context of poverty reduction, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights specifies that the principle implies that, ‘no right can be deliberately allowed to suffer an absolute decline in its level of realization’.22 The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, defines non-retrogression in terms of a country’s obligations of result in other documents also. For example in its discussion of frequently asked questions about human rights principles it states:

Finally, according to the principle of non-retrogression of rights, no right can be permitted deliberately to suffer an absolute decline in its level of realization, unless the relevant duty-bearer(s) can justify this by referring to the totality of the rights in force in the given situation and fully uses the maximum of available resource.23

At a minimum, this suggests that countries whose scores on the SERF Index decline over time have violated the principle of non-retrogression unless they can justify the decline.

Table 2 shows the number of countries that are likely to have violated the principle of non-retrogression (by decade for both core and high-income OECD countries relative to the number of countries with data). The results suggest that retrogression (regarding such a breach) was common. Despite the fact that on average progress was greatest on the Core Historical Right to Education Index, over a third of the countries showed retrogression on this index between 1985 and 1995. Many countries progressed in one decade, only to then regress in a subsequent decade (or vice versa). In general, for core countries, retrogression was more common from 1985-1995, and also from 1995-2005, than it was from 1975-1985. For some countries, achievement relative to the feasible level was lower in 2005 than it was in 1975 (see the second column in Table 2), implying retrogression over the period as a whole. Many high-income OECD countries also are likely to have violated the principle of non-retrogression: the increase in the level of rights enjoyment did not increase at the same rate as their capacity to fulfil rights increased (in fact it even decreased sometimes). With regard to the rights to education and health, evidence of probable retrogression in the high-income OECD countries never extended over the whole forty-year period. However, with regard to the rights to food and work, retrogression in the respective rights indices proved to be the rule across each decade, and consequently over the forty-year period as a whole.

Table 2: Proportion of countries failing to uphold the principle of non-retrogression

Historical SERF Index and component right indices

Index

1975-2005

1975-1985

1985-1995

1995-2005

Core Historical Indices

 

 

 

 

Core Historical SERF

0/1

0/1

3/24

10/54

Core Historical Right to Education

7/86

9/87

35/99

17/124

Core Historical Right to Food

3/16

0/13

20/52

34/96

Core Historical Right to Health

3/51

3/35

7/71

24/116

Core Historical Right to Housing

4/73

21/71

22/106

36/136

Core Historical Right to Work

3/4

0/2

27/50

29/81

Supplemental Historical Indices

 

 

 

 

Supplemental Historical SERF

1/4

1/5

5/14

5/21

Supplemental Right to Education

0/25

0/25

1/28

7/31

Supplemental Right to Food

17/25

13/25

21/29

24/30

Supplemental Right to Health

0/28

18/28

1/31

0/31

Supplemental Right to Work

4/4

13/15

5/5

8/22

Note: The numerator shows the number of countries whose scores fell. The denominator shows the number of countries with data.

Table 3 shows the countries whose score on the Core Historical SERF Index and Core Component Right Indices increased the most over the whole period (see column 2), and in each decade (see columns 3, 4, and 5). Table 4 provides the same information with regard to the Supplemental Historical SERF Index and underlying right indices. A fair number of countries showed a dramatic increase in their index scores, even in the face of rapidly increasing per capita income, and, accordingly, a rapidly rising level of obligation. For example, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman dramatically improved their score on the Core Historical Right to Education Index. Other countries also showed substantial gains in this respect, despite very limited gains in per capita income. That is to say, they raised the level of rights enjoyment relative to the feasible level given their limited resource capacity; although the absolute level of rights enjoyment remained low in those countries with low per capita income levels. The gains shown by the top performing high-income OECD countries were far more modest, except with regard to the right to education. Not surprisingly, since countries scoring near 100 % on the index cannot improve their scores much in future periods, for both core and high-income OECD countries, progress was greatest for those countries that were most deficient in meeting their economic and social rights obligations at the outset.

Table 3: Top 5 Countries showing improvement Core historical SERF Index and component right indices

Index

Most Improvement

Wave 4 Top Scores

1975-2005

1975-1985

1985-1995

1995-2005

Core Historical SERF

Insufficient Data

Insufficient Data

Guatemala (22.7) Dominican Republic (14.2) Sri Lanka (11.5) Bangladesh (11.2) Thailand (11.1)

The Gambia (23.2) Vietnam (16.7) Indonesia (15.0) Nepal (14.4) Honduras (13.4)

Ukraine (95.3) Belarus (94.0) Uruguay (93.4) Jordan (92.8) Chile (92.6)

Core Historical Right to Education

Qatar (89.3) Liberia (83.4) Kuwait (83.3) Oman (69.7) Sierra Leone (68.2)

Guatemala (40.7) Rwanda (32.5) Mauritania (21.5) Thailand (19.6) Chile (16.7)

Afghanistan (54.9) Cyprus (52.2) United Arab Emirates (51.8) Brazil (47.1) Burundi (39.5)

Kuwait (55.5) Eritrea (52.4) Saudi Arabia (48.4) Qatar (46.9) Togo (41.0)

Score of 100: Brazil, Liberia, Tajikistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominica, Grenada, Tonga, Seychelles

Core Historical Right to Food

Nepal (49.6) Pakistan (47.8) El Salvador (44.3) India (43.3) Philippines (41.0)

El Salvador (31.1) Tunisia (30.2) Philippines (25.7) Trinidad & Tobago (18.0) India (16.2)

Pakistan (33.1) India (30.3) Vietnam (19.9) Bhutan (18.4) Peru (17.6)

Bangladesh (38.2) Mauritania (34.9) Indonesia (29.6) Nepal (28.6) Uzbekistan (27.6)

Kyrgyz Republic (100) Ukraine (100) Moldova (100) Togo 99.8) Chile (99.4)

Core Historical Right to Health

Nicaragua (50.0) Malawi (45.8) Algeria (43.5) Honduras (39.9) Peru (39.2)

Algeria (24.4) El Salvador (19.3) Honduras (19.3) The Gambia (18.0) Nicaragua (17.9)

Liberia (34.8) Iraq (19.1) Nicaragua (18.7) Malawi (17.0) Bangladesh (16.9)

Rwanda (26.0) Mauritius (21.3) Nepal (17.8) Niger (17.6) Malawi (17.0)

Vietnam (99.1) Costa Rica (99.0) Cuba (97.9) China (96.9) Nicaragua (96.0)

Core Historical Right to Housing

Maldives (87.0) Saudi Arabia (74.8) Nepal (64.4) Paraguay (63.2) Thailand (57.2)

Saudi Arabia (56.3) United Arab Emirates (45.6) Paraguay (44.4) Chile (33.3) Iran (33.2)

Maldives (59.8) Oman (50.9) Bangladesh (47.7) Guatemala (46.9) Argentina (39.1)

Afghanistan (23.3) Paraguay (21.3) Malawi (21.2) Timor-Leste (19.1) Lao PDR (18.8)

Score of 100: Bulgaria, Malta, Cyprus, Oatar, Singapore, Barbados

Core Historical Right to Work

Insufficient Data

Insufficient Data

Guatemala (40.7) Rwanda (32.5) Mauritania (21.5) Thailand (19.6) Chile (16.7)

The Gambia (52.3) China (31.3) Vietnam (26.6) Romania (25.4) Pakistan (25.1)

Score of 100*: Croatia, Ukraine, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Russian Federation, Latvia, Azerbaijan, Togo, Seychelles, Lithuania

Note: Excludes countries with an obligation of 0 in view of per capita income levels that are too low (below $725) to bring anyone above the $2 poverty line in the absence of inequality.

The last columns of Tables 3 and 4 show the countries with the top scores on the Historical SERF Indices and underlying right indices in 2005 for core, and high-income OECD countries, respectively. Although no country achieved 100 % on the Core Historical SERF Index, a considerable number of countries achieved a score of 100 % on the Core Historical Component Right Indices. Countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia tend to score highest on the Core Historical SERF Index and several, but not all, of the underlying right indices. Latin American countries and countries in East Asia and the Pacific topped the list with respect to the Core Historical Right to Health Index. The Scandinavian countries achieved the highest scores on the Supplemental Historical SERF Index, although none achieved a score of 100 %. By 2005, the majority of high-income OECD countries achieved scores of 100 % on the Supplemental Historical Right to Education Index, implying that all people in these countries enjoy access to a basic education. Japan, Iceland and Italy hold the top scores on the Supplemental Historical Right to Health Index.

Table 4: Top 3 Countries showing improvement and best performing countries Supplemental historical SERF Index and component right indices

Index

Most Improvement

Wave 4 Top Scores

1975-2005

1975-1985

1985-1995

1995-2005

Supplemental Historical SERF

Spain (11.9) Sweden (8.9) Canada (5.8)

Spain (6.8) Canada (5.1) United States (4.2)

United Kingdom (9.0) France (7.4) Sweden (6.8)

Italy (10.3) Hungary (4.8) Greece (4.4)

Sweden (95.2) Norway (95.0) Finland (92.9)

Supplemental Right to Education

Portugal (68.6) Spain (62.9) Italy (59.5)

Spain (40.8) Republic of Korea (40.3) Netherlands (38.5)

Portugal (74.4) United Kingdom (41.4) New Zealand (39.0)

Luxembourg (34.2) Italy (30.5) Greece (21.9)

Score of 100: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Belgium, France, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand

Supplemental Right to Food

Hungary (5.2) Luxembourg (3.5) Poland (2.2)

Hungary (2.3) Canada (1.9) Italy (1.7)

Hungary (3.1) Poland (2.5) Luxembourg (2.3)

Luxembourg (3.2) Denmark (1.3) Poland (1.1)

Sweden (100) Finland (100) Iceland (100)

Supplemental Right to Health

Republic of Korea (10.1) Iceland (6.6) Portugal (5.4)

Republic of Korea (3.8) Iceland (1.1) Spain (0.76)

New Zealand (3.5) Austria (3.5) Greece (3.3)

Republic of Korea (3.8) Iceland (3.3) Estonia (3.2)

Japan (99.4) Iceland (99.0) Italy (98.4)

Supplemental Right to Work

No country with data progressed

No country with data progressed

Denmark (16.3) Luxembourg (15.3) All others with data regressed

United Kingdom (18.0) Norway (13.0) Spain (12.9)

Norway (95.0) Sweden (95.2) Korea (90.5)

The high scores achieved by some developing countries reflect low levels of obligation in the face of their limited resource capacity. This raises the question of whether rights enjoyment would have increased more over the four decades had efforts been focused on increasing per capita income rather than improving rights enjoyment, within the constraints of limited resources. More generally, a key question is whether countries that emphasise devoting current resources to meeting their economic and social rights commitments do so at the expense of generating additional resources that could have enabled even greater enjoyment of economic and social rights in the future. It is to this question that we now turn.

V. Do Countries Direct Resources to Meeting Economic and Social Rights Commitments at the Expense of Growth?

One way to examine the question of whether countries that prioritise meeting their economic and social rights commitments over growth then grow more slowly is to examine trends over time in countries’ growth and rights performance. Here we divide countries along two dimensions:

  1. Those with SERF Index scores above or below the median score;

  2. Those with average annual per capita GDP growth rates during the decade above or below the median score.

We look at the transition pattern between the decades of the 1990s and 2000s.24 Cycles can be variously classified as vicious or virtuous according to whether improvement or decline ensues. Countries that are in the bottom half of countries – with regard to both their SERF Index score in 1995 and their average annual per capita GDP growth rate during the decade – are classified as being caught in a “vicious cycle”: hypothesising that their low score on the SERF Index impedes per capita income growth thereby further limiting resources available with which to expand the enjoyment of economic rights over time. Along the same lines, countries that are in the top half of countries – with regard to both their SERF index score and their average annual per capita GDP growth rate during the decade – are classified as being in a “virtuous” cycle. Our hypothesis is that a high SERF Index score may foster faster per capita income growth increasing resources to further expand rights enjoyment. Countries that appear to have prioritised growth over meeting their commitments to fulfil economic and social rights are those that have above-median growth rates over the decade, but below-median SERF index scores, we call these “growth-lopsided” countries. Countries that appear to have prioritised meeting their commitments to fulfil economic and social rights over growth are those with above-median scores on the SERF Index, but below median growth rates, we call these countries “SERF-lopsided”.

To test our hypothesis that fulfilling economic and social rights commitments and economic growth may be mutually reinforcing, we examine where countries that start in either the “vicious” or the “virtuous” quadrant in the initial decade (1990s) end up in the subsequent decade (2000s). Eleven countries were in the vicious quadrant in the 1990s, of these, 63.6 % failed to escape the vicious quadrant in the 2000s; their SERF Index scores and per capita GDP growth rates were below the median levels during the 2000s. Of the remaining countries, 18.2% became “growth-lopsided”, 9.1 % “SERF-lopsided”, and 9.1 % succeeded in achieving the virtuous quadrant. On the other hand, of the eleven countries that started out in the virtuous quadrant, 63.6 % remained in the virtuous quadrant in the subsequent decade, with 18.2 % becoming “SERF-lopsided”, 9.1 % becoming “growth- lopsided” and 9.1 % falling into the vicious quadrant. These transition patterns indicate that meeting economic and social rights commitments reinforces growth.

To attain the virtuous cycle, is it better to focus on growth or to concentrate on meeting economic and social rights commitments first? To gain some insight into this question, we consider the transition paths of the “lopsided” countries. Of the 16 countries that were growth-lopsided in the 1990s, only one converted to the virtuous cycle in the subsequent decade; while 50 % (ie 8 countries) converted to the vicious quadrant. The other 44% remained growth-lopsided. In contrast, of the 16 countries that were “SERF-lopsided” in the 1990s, 56 % converted to the virtuous quadrant in the subsequent decade; with an additional 31 % remaining “SERF-lopsided”; and just 6 % falling into each of the growth-lopsided and vicious quadrants. Thus focusing available resources on meeting economic and social rights commitments offers better prospects for both future growth and enhanced economic and social rights enjoyment in the future. Directing available resources to foster growth at the expense of meeting economic and social rights obligations is likely to lead to both poor growth outcomes and lower levels of economic and social rights fulfilment in the future.

Several issues warrant further investigation in future work. Firstly, it is possible that fulfilling certain economic and social rights drives our findings that ensuring economic and social rights and economic growth are mutually reinforcing and that to attain the virtuous cycle, it is better to prioritise economic and social rights over growth. There exists a rich theoretical and empirical literature confirming a positive link between human capital and economic growth.25 Expanding educational opportunities and improving health outcomes build human capital. It could be that while fulfilling the rights to education and health is critical to our results, fulfilling other economic and social rights is not. Secondly, a growing amount of literature demonstrates multiple channels through which poverty and inequality impede growth; there is growing evidence that countries with extensive welfare systems tend to enjoy lower levels of inequality and poverty.26 Together, these findings suggest a large state sector may offer better prospects for fulfilling economic and social rights while promoting growth. However, it is likely that there are multiple policy regimes that foster economic growth which are consistent with the fulfilment of economic and social rights commitments. Case studies of the policy regimes followed by those countries identified here as performing relatively better, with regard to both growth and economic and social rights fulfilment, are promising in terms of their potential to shed light on the range of options regarding the balance between the state and the market that can successfully meet both objectives.

VI. Concluding Remarks

The SERF Index methodology introduced by Randolph, Fukuda-Parr, and Lawson-Remer27 specifies an evidence-based methodology that enables one to identify the level of rights enjoyment that is reasonably feasible for countries with different resource capacities to achieve. Here, we adapt this methodology to construct an Historical SERF Index that overcomes the challenge of gauging the extent to which countries are compliant with their obligations of result under the ICESCR, by benchmarking each country’s level of obligation as it has evolved over the past forty years (with regard to the different substantive economic and social rights). This approach enables us to learn whether the expansion of the enjoyment of economic and social rights been extended in tandem with per capita income growth, and whether countries are indeed doing as much as they can to ensure economic and social rights. It also spot-lights cases where it is likely that countries have violated the principle of non-retrogression.

Our findings are encouraging. The big picture is that, in general, countries are meeting their economic and social rights obligations of result to an increasing degree, and (generally) the gains have been pronounced. The average score on the Core Historical SERF Index (covering all but the high-income OECD countries) has increased by 10 percentage points since 1985, and that for the underlying right to education, housing, health and food indices by 37, 27, 19 and 17 percentage points, respectively, since 1975. The only substantive right where no progress has been made is in the right to work. Despite the gains shown, substantial progress remains to be achieved. On average, by 2005, the core countries had achieved just over 70 % of that which is reasonably feasible. Average achievement among high-income OECD countries as assessed by the Supplemental Historical SERF Index is somewhat higher — over 85 % of what is reasonably feasible in 2005. Nevertheless, progress over the forty years scrutinised has been more limited and primarily traces the progressive realisation of the right to education, and, more specifically, access to basic education. Regression has been the rule, with regard to the rights to food and the right to work, in the high-income OECD countries. This suggests that the principle of non-retrogression has been violated both in terms of the right to food and the right to work.

The big picture, regarding average progress, masks substantial variation across countries; retrogression — both overall and with regard to specific substantive rights — was common, especially over periods spanning a decade. This raises fundamental questions regarding the factors that account for the difference in outcomes. Among the many factors that are likely in play, we examined one key question here: whether countries face a trade-off between fulfilling economic and social rights obligations today, and expanding the resource capacity that can enable greater enjoyment of economic and social rights in the future.

The evidence here indicates that, far from retarding per capita income growth, fulfilling economic and social rights obligations today tends to promote per capita income growth and thereby the capacity to further expand the enjoyment of economic and social rights in the future. The variation in performance observed across countries at a given time, and within individual countries over time, raises many more questions concerning the policy regimes and circumstances that best facilitate the fulfilment of economic and social rights. Detailed case studies of those countries that performed relatively better in terms of meeting their economic and social rights commitments while simultaneously promoting growth promise to shed light on the range of policy regimes that promote both of these goals, and in various circumstances.

Annex A

Figure 1: Average Core Historical SERF Index and component right indices trends: countries with data on any wave versus countries with data on all waves
Figure 2: Average Supplemental Historical SERF Index and component right indices trends: countries with data on any wave versus countries with data on all waves

1This article is based upon work supported in part by the US National Science Foundation Grant # 1061457.
2Susan Randolph, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Terra Lawson-Remer, ‘Economic and Social Rights Fulfillment Index: Country Scores and Rankings’ (2010) 9 Journal of Human Rights, 230; Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Terra Lawson-Remer and Susan Randolph, ‘SERF Index Methodology: Version 2011.1’ (2011) (Technical Note) http://www.serfindex.org/data/; Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Terra Lawson-Remer and Susan Randolph, ‘An Index of Economic and Social Rights Fulfillment: Concept and Methodology’ (2009) 8 Journal of Human Rights, 195.
3International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (adopted 16 December 1966, entered into force 3 January 1976) 993 UNTS 3 (ICESCR).
4ICESCR art 2.1.
5For example, Langford compares World Bank and ILO calculations of the cost of providing basic child benefits in Africa and Asia and finds the World Bank estimates are two to three times ILOs estimates. See Langford, Malcolm, ‘Social Security and Children: Testing the Boundaries of Human Rights and Economics’, in Stephen Marks, Bard Anders Andrassen, and Arjun Sengupta (eds), Freedom from Poverty as a Human Right: Economic Perspectives (UNESCO 2009).
6Siddiqur Rahman Osmani, ‘Human Rights to Food, Health, and Education’1 Journal of Human Development 273.
7Audrey Chapman, ‘The Status of Efforts to Monitor Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’, in Shareen Hertel and Lanse Minkler (eds.) Economic Rights: Conceptual, Measurement, and Policy Issues (Cambridge University Press 2007).
8 Fukuda-Parr, Lawson-Remer and Randolph ‘An Index of Economic and Social Rights Fulfillment’ (n 2); Fukuda-Parr, Lawson-Remer and Randolph ‘SERF Index Methodology’ (n 2); Randolph, Fukuda-Parr and Lawson-Remer ‘Economic and Social Rights Fulfillment Index’ (n 2).
9Table A.2 in Fukuda-Parr, Lawson-Remer and Randolph ‘SERF Index Methodology’ (n 2) shows the year of the boundary observations defining the frontier for each of the indicators used in the construction of the SERF Index. Over the longer term, the frontier is likely to shift upward with further improvement in best practice.
10See Randolph, Fukuda-Parr and Lawson-Remer ‘Economic and Social Rights Fulfillment Index’ (n 2) and Fukuda-Parr, Lawson-Remer and Randolph ‘SERF Index Methodology’ (n 2) for details on these procedures.
11The right to property is also identified in the Covenant but not considered here, since compliance with it is more appropriately addressed as a procedural right.
12 Randolph, Fukuda-Parr and Lawson-Remer ‘Economic and Social Rights Fulfillment Index’ (n 2) discuss the link between specific indicators and the right aspect they reflect in some detail.
13Limitations in country coverage precluded the selection of the net secondary school enrolment rate.
14UN Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ‘General Comment 4: The Right to Adequate Housing’ (1991) UN Doc E/1992/23 (General Comment 4).
15Jamie Bartram, ‘Improving on Haves and Have-Nots’ (2008) 452 Nature 283.
16Regressions were run one at a time of one component right index on all of the other component right indices (for example, the Core Historical Right to Education Index was regressed on the Core Historical Right to Health, Right to Housing, Right to Work, and Right to Food Indices). The partial correlation coefficients from these regressions were all positive, providing some assurance that countries defining the frontier for one right do not do so to the neglect of other rights, and suggesting there are indeed interdependencies between the rights.
17A parallel analysis was conducted using the average values for those countries for which it was feasible to compute the Core Historical Right to Health, Food, Housing, and Education indices for all four waves and the Core Historical Right to Work Index and the aggregate Core Historical SERF Index for the last three decades. The difference in averages for each given wave is quite small, with a small but noticeable increase in the rate of improvement over time on the Core Historical Right to Food and Health Indices, and a small decrease in the rate of improvement over time on the Core Historical Right to Education Index. See Annex A, Figure 1 for graphs comparing the variants.
18One should bear in mind that the data used to construct the frontiers spans 1990 to 2008. Technological advances may have led to an increase in the feasible level of achievement at a given per capita income level from the seventies to the eighties, with regard to the right to health in particular. To the extent that this is true, the observed progress on the right to health between the seventies and the eighties is inflated.
19A parallel analysis was conducted using the average values for those countries for which it was feasible to compute the Supplemental Historical Right to Health, Food and Education indices for all four waves and the Supplemental Historical Right to Work Index and the aggregate Supplemental Historical SERF Index for the last three decades. The difference in averages for each given wave is fairly small, with a small but noticeable increase in the rate of improvement, since 1995, in the aggregate Supplemental Historical SERF index. There is also a noticeable decrease in the Supplemental Historical Right to Food Index and a slightly increased level in the Supplemental Right to Work Index. See Annex A, Figure 2 for graphs comparing the variants.
20PISA scores are not available for 1970s or 1980s — the quality aspect cannot therefore be incorporated into the Supplemental Historical Right to Education Index for 1975 or 1985. If one incorporates the average of the math and science PISA score as a component of the Supplemental Historical Right to Education Index for 1995 and 2005, the average score on the Index falls from 92 % to 85 % in 1995 and from 95 % to 86 % in 2005. However, the average gain in this alternative Supplemental Right to Education Index across high-income OECD countries is less than one percentage point (85.0 % to 85.8 %) for countries that have the necessary data on either wave 3 or 4, and by an even smaller amount for countries that have data on both waves 3 and 4.
21UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ‘General Comment 3, The Nature of State Parties Obligations’ (1990) UN Doc E/1991/23.
22Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘Human Rights and Poverty Reduction: A Conceptual Framework’ (2004) United Nations, Acting Commissioner for Human Rights, Betrand Ramcharan, UN Doc. HR/PUB/04/1, <http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/PovertyReductionen.pdf> accessed 30 June 2012, 25.
23Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘Frequently Asked Questions on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Development’ (2006) United Nations, New York and Geneva, accessed June 30 2012, <http://www.ohchr.org/documents/Publications/FAQen.pdf>.
24The methodology used is an adaptation of that employed in Alejandro Ramirez, Gustav Ranis and Frances Stewart, ‘Economic Growth & Human Development’ (2000) 28 World Development 197. 
25See for example Alan B Krueger and Mikael Lindahl, ‘Education for Growth: Why and for Whom’ (2001) 39 Journal of Economic Literature 1101; Amar A Hamoudi and Jeffrey D Sachs ‘Economic Consequences of Health Status: A Review of the Evidence’ (1999) CID Working Paper No 30, Harvard Center for International Development.
26Regarding how poverty and inequality impede growth, see for example, Philippe Aghion, Eve Caroli, and Cecilia Garcia-Penalosa, ‘Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories’ (2006) 37 Journal of Economic Literature 1615; and Guillermo Perry and others, ‘Poverty Reduction and Growth: Virtuous and Vicious Circles’ (The World Bank 2006). Regarding the relative efficacy of growth versus welfare in mitigating poverty, see for example David Brady, ‘Structural Theory and Relative Poverty in Rich Western Democracies, 1969-2000’ (2005) Luxembourg Income Study Working Paper series No. 407 and Michael Cichon and others, ‘Financing Social Protection’ (ILO/ISSA 2004).
27See Fukuda-Parr, Lawson-Remer and Randolph ‘An Index of Economic and Social Rights Fulfillment’ (n 2); Fukuda-Parr, Lawson-Remer and Randolph ‘SERF Index Methodology’ (n 2); Randolph, Fukuda-Parr and Lawson-Remer ‘Economic and Social Rights Fulfillment Index’ (n 2).

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