Americas Climate Change & Climate Action Economy & Business Europe & Eurasia Inclusive Growth
Issue Brief July 8, 2021

Forgotten places around the world: A call for action

By Martin Mühleisen


The geographical distribution of growth is an important dimension of inequality that has often been overlooked by policymakers and academics. This is because it is often subordinated as a structural issue and thus lacks the resources and targeted policymaking required to alleviate the issue. In fact, as governments construct their post-pandemic recovery plans, they must understand that growth can only be inclusive if it lifts the fortunes of “forgotten places.” Spatial inequality is in many ways a macro-critical issue, as it directly interferes with broader sustainable growth goals. For instance, reducing geographic inequality can increase an economy’s productive capacity, reduce other dimensions of inequality, and even promote the green energy transition. Thus far, proposed solutions to combat this issue have focused on investments in infrastructure and education, but these have failed to produce strong results. This is largely because these policies are considered panaceas without considering important economic and social complexities. As the new Biden administration works to develop solutions to boost rural economies, they need to ensure that all levels of government work closely together to actualize real change. Further, there is scope for policy coordination and an exchange of ideas with the private sector, think tanks, and international organizations.

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Image: Teacher Sergio Ferrao gives instructions to students on how to wear a face mask at Escuela 30, a rural school that has resumed classes after a month off due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in San Jose, Uruguay April 22, 2020. REUTERS/Mariana Greif REFILE- CORRECTING TEACHER'S LAST NAME