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Equity, Growth and Insurrection: Liberalisation and the Welfare Debate in Contemporary Sri Lanka

  • Economics
  • Education
  • Political Science


This paper focuses on economic consequences of policy reforms and their social and political impacts. Our central argument is the following: (a) contrary to many assertions in the immediate post-reform period, economic liberalisation in Sri Lanka had a significant impact on both household and regional inequality, though not one that was reflected in the conventional statistical measures that informed and dominated policy; (b) the changes in wealth distribution were related to the altered pay-offs associated with certain assets (especially education) and people's access to them; (c) even if they were not reflected in conventional statistical measures, affected population groups were intensely aware of these changes in the distribution of relative wealth; and (d) their perceptions of increased inequality were magnified by a widening gap between expectations and the opportunities that were open to them.

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