The World Bank Group’s focus on social inclusion began with the obser vation that even within countries, development investments produced unequal benefi ts. Further assessments revealed that groups with certain distinguishing characteristics consistently failed to benefi t from a nation’s progress. These groups were among the poorest in a nation, but they were not consistently the poorest. They were often, but not always, minorities. What set them apart was that they were members of excluded groups— indigenous people, new immigrants, people with disabilities, people with different skin tones, people who spoke the offi cial language imperfectly. These were people branded by stigmas, stereotypes, and superstitions. They confronted unique barriers that kept them from fully participating in their country’s political and economic life. They were excluded. One of the world’s greatest development efforts is coming to a close. The year 2015 marks the endpoint for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In assessing the MDG response and chart ing a course for the next era of development, the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post 2015 Development Agenda (UN 2013) called for designing development goals that focus on reaching excluded groups. “Leave no one behind,” it advised. “We should ensure that no person—regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race, or status—is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities.” Along with global developments, the World Bank Group has announced two ambitious goals for itself: ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity. Underlying the goals is the notion of “sus tainability.” A sustainable path for development and poverty reduction is defi ned as one that manages the resources of the planet for future 2 • INCLUSION MATTERS generations, ensures social inclusion and adopts fi scally responsible policies that limit future debt burden (World Bank 2013b). As a recent World Bank Group publication notes: A sustainable path toward ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity would also involve creating an inclusive society, not only in terms of economic welfare but also in terms of the voice and empower ment of all groups. An inclusive society must have the institutions, struc tures, and processes that empower local communities, so they can hold their governments accountable. It also requires the participation of all groups in society, including traditionally marginalized groups, such as ethnic minorities and indigenous populations, in decision-making pro cesses. (World Bank 2013b, 33, emphasis added) Social inclusion matters for itself. But it also matters because it is the foundation for shared prosperity and because social exclusion is simply too costly. There are substantial costs—social, political, and economic—to not addressing the exclusion of entire groups of people. The Arab Spring may have been the most costly recent reaction to the exclusion of educated youth—from labor markets but also, and perhaps mainly, from political decision making and accountability. Although there are signifi cant meth odological challenges in measuring the cost of exclusion, some efforts have been made. A World Bank report on the Roma (an ethnic minority in Europe) estimates annual productivity losses caused by their exclusion. It suggests that these costs could range from €231 million in Serbia to €887 million in Romania (de Laat 2010). Exclusion has deleterious consequences for human capital development as well. For instance, a recent report fi nds that children with disabilities are less likely to start school than children without disabilities and have lower rates of staying in school (WHO and World Bank 2011). Similarly, women in India who experience spousal violence are less likely to receive antenatal care and more likely to have a terminated pregnancy or still birth, and their children are more likely to be stunted than are children of mothers who have not been abused (World Bank 2011a). This report provides a frame of reference to help understand and move toward social inclusion. It is intended for policy makers, academics, activ ists, and development partners—indeed, anyone who is curious about what inclusion can mean and how it can be addressed in a world that is in the throes of formidable transitions. Although it does not provide defi nitive answers, it offers a defi nition and a framework to help advance the agenda of social inclusion. It builds on the Bank’s previous analytical work on OVERVIEW • 3 themes that have touched upon social inclusion. It also draws on a review of relevant literature, analysis of survey data, some new qualitative work, and policy engagement with select countries. This report is the Bank’s fi rst comprehensive examination of inclu sion. It is certainly incomplete. It is hoped that this fi rst effort prods and inspires further research by social scientists to broaden the understanding of the causes, consequences, and remedies of exclusion. There are seven main messages in this report: 1. Excluded groups exist in all countries. 2. Excluded groups are consistently denied opportunities. 3. Intense global transitions are leading to social transformations that create new opportunities for inclusion as well as exacerbating exist ing forms of exclusion. 4. People take part in society through markets, services, and spaces. 5. Social and economic transformations affect the attitudes and percep tions of people. As people act on the basis of how they feel, it is important to pay attention to their attitudes and perceptions. 6. Exclusion is not immutable. Abundant evidence demonstrates that social inclusion can be planned and achieved. 7. Moving ahead will require a broader and deeper knowledge of exclu sion and its impacts as well as taking concerted action.