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Halcyon's 52:52:52 campaign on this site and on Twitter will start in late 2020. It will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

Part consultancy, part thinktank, part social enterprise, Halcyon helps you prepare for and respond to personal, organisational and societal change.

A Mundane Comedy is Halcyon's new book. Extracts will appear on this site and on social media during late 2020. Please get in touch with any questions about the book or related Halcyon services.

Halcyon monitors change for more than 150 key elements of life.

What's Changing? - Equality

Equality

 

Please see below selected recent equality-related change.

 

See also:

 

In figures:

 

October 2020

  • About one in 3.5 million of us is a billionaire; 2,189 in all. That number is rising and so is billionaires’ total wealth - and so is extreme poverty. Inequality is more extreme now than at any time since 1905, concluded UBS.
  • As the scale of health inequalities continued to come to light during the pandemic, The Equality Trust held a webinar on Tackling health inequalities in light of Covid-19, with Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Farzana Khan (Healing Justice London) and Natalie Creary (Black Thrive).

 

September 2020

  • Although more than half of the world's population is now online, internet access remains quite low throughout the developing world, where connectivity is largely expensive, slow and unreliable. GZEROMedia notes that this means a vegetable trader in Nairobi, for example, may use basic mobile phone payments but cannot expect to sell his produce online because most of his buyers are neither online nor aware of e-commerce. In developing countries, governments lack the funds and private companies the financial incentive to invest in broadband for all. The economic crisis triggered by the pandemic will further discourage betting big on digital infrastructure plans where they are most needed, so the digitised world will speed ahead in the fast lane while 3.2 billion unconnected people may remain stuck.
  • New York Times economic specialist Nelson D. Schwartz explored the “velvet ropes” that businesses - and, increasingly, public institutions - erect to separate haves from have-nots. The have-nots suffer long lines and shabby treatment. The haves get fast lanes of such improved circumstances that they don’t notice or care about the dilapidation of services for everybody else. These socioeconomic fault lines isolate groups of people from one another – based on ability to pay - and fray the social cohesion that binds communities and creates broad support for their institutions.
  • A growing concern emerged among economists that a pandemic-fuelled depression would result in societies that are even more unequal, where the haves still prospered as the have-nots bore the brunt of lost jobs, lower salaries and shuttered businesses.
  • Indeed, the pandemic is going to make inequality worse, warned GZEROMedia. In wealthy countries, the public health and economic burdens of the crisis have fallen disproportionately on poorer or minority communities. The millions of service jobs that will come back slowest — if at all — are held mostly by lower income workers. Where schools remain closed, the impact will be greatest on children from less affluent households that lack high-speed internet access or technology for remote learning. At the same time, on a global scale, poorer countries will suffer a bigger economic blow than richer ones. Developing countries, many of which have thin financial cushions, are suffering a triple-whammy of collapsing exports, lower remittance flows, and evaporating tourism. The IMF is struggling to coordinate adequate relief.

 

August 2020

  • In the world’s most populated countries, the very highest earners are getting an increasingly bigger piece of the pie. Between 1980 and 2015, the share of pre-tax income going to the top 1% more than doubled in China and India, and grew by 80% in the US. This rise in inequality is largely the result of the highest-educated workers making a lot more money. Automation, computing power, and globalization made knowledge workers more valuable. At the same time, power for the working class dissipated as unions became weaker. If income is to be distributed more equally, it either means broadening access to educational opportunities or pushing laws, like the minimum wage or promoting unions, according to Quartz.
  • Constant exposure to billboards can be annoying, but these ads may also deepen inequality and contribute to a public health crisisBBC Worklife reported that in urban areas “evidence shows that lower-income people are bombarded with more ­and more harmful ads than those in wealthy neighbourhoods.” Advertising is two- to four-times more dense in lower-income neighbourhoods because space is cheaper and there's less regulation. Critics say the glut of ads can cause mental overload and promote overspending and overconsumption. Often ads targeted at these communities hawk foods high in salt, fat and sugar.

 

June 2020

  • According to a study by the media company Black Enterprise, 187 of the S&P 500 companies - about 37 percent - did not have a single black board member in 2019 (although that figure was a two percentage point "improvement" from the preceding year).
  • Protests around the world are bringing increased attention to the continuing gaps in economic status between white and black, particuarly in the United States. Data show that blacks in the US have 10 times less wealth, are 20% more likely to be unemployed, and make 78% as much in weekly wages as whites. Due to the way that government statistical agencies collect data, these numbers actually underestimate the difference.
  • Prejudice against Indigenous people is still widespread today, warned GZEROMedia, adding that e.g. it's well documented that the policy aimed at creating a uniform white Australia gave rise to deeply entrenched racism against Indigenous peoples in that country. A decade-long joint study recently published by Harvard, Yale and the University of Sydney found that 75 percent of Australians have an "implicit negative bias" against the Indigenous population.
  • Recent reports - one on inequality from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and another on the low paid from the Resolution Foundation - show that society has simply become far too segmented into the secure and the insecure, the safe and the vulnerable.

 

May 2020

  • In a sequel to his bestselling Capital in the Twenty-First Century, economist Thomas Piketty expanded his focus on inequality to the prodigious “political-ideological repertoire” that constitutes the economic narratives of major nations. Piketty calls for more circumspection and greater discussion of the wider causes and remedies of inequality.
  • Automation will worsen inequality in wealthy countries. This transition to new forms of work won't come easy. People with skillsets better suited to the digitized workplace will have a much easier time than people expected to develop those skills from scratch. The result could intensify the inequality that has already stoked populism and upended political establishments in so many countries in recent years. Robots pose a special challenge in emerging markets. Hundreds of millions of jobs are at stake in lower-wage countries that have operated for decades as factories for the world's textiles and light manufacturing industries. The International Labour Organisation has warned, for example, that 140 million jobs in Southeast Asia alone are at risk of automation in the next 15 years. That's more than half the region's salaried labour force. And that was before the coronavirus pandemic created new reasons for companies to turn to robots in order to safeguard their production and supply chains against future disruption

 

April 2020

  • The COVID-19 pandemic will hit poorer countries particularly hard. But the burden of the virus' spread also falls more heavily on working class people even in wealthy countries, particularly in Europe and the United States. This is exacerbating the divide between rich and poor that had already upended the political establishment in countries around the world even before anyone had heard of a novel coronavirus.

 

February 2020

  • The Government of Finland announced it would grant equal paid parental leave to both partners, whether or not they are giving birth. As of 2021, each parent will be able to take 164 days off, adding up to a combined total of 14 months. A parent can also elect to transfer up to 69 days from their own allowance to their partner. In addition, the pregnant parent will receive a month’s paid leave to use before the start of the paid parental leave. The policy applies for heterosexual, same-sex and single parents and will cost the government about EUR 100 million (USD 108 million).

 

January 2020

  • Inequality has risen to historic levels, according to the U.N.'s "World Social Report 2020." Major global trends‚ including technological change, the climate crisis, urbanisation, and international migration, "can be harnessed for a more equitable and sustainable world, or they can be left to further divide us," the report says.

 

November 2019

  • The Economist points out that many of the modern world’s discontents are laid at the door of mounting inequality - but perhaps unfairly. In his bestselling book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty, a French economist, argued that under capitalism widening inequality is a normal state of affairs. Yet two other studies, by American government economists, and by the US Congressional Budget Office - produce markedly different results and find barely any change in the income share of the top 1% in America since the 1960s. The Economist believes a long, bitter academic battle looms over (in)equality, a phenomenon that is still only partially understood.
  • Inequality has risen to historic levels, according to the U.N.'s "World Social Report 2020." Major global trends‚ including technological change, the climate crisis, urbanisation, and international migration, "can be harnessed for a more equitable and sustainable world, or they can be left to further divide us," the report says.

 

October 2019

  • Millionaires account for one percent of the world's population, but they own 44 percent of global wealth. While economic inequality persists in every region of the world, the gap between the world's haves and have-nots has actually narrowed slightly since peaking in 2016.
  • As of 2018, half of the world's population was online with some form of internet connection. Despite progress, this still puts billions of people on the wrong side of the digital divide. Leaving half the world without access to the "electricity of today's age" - internet access, and increasingly at broadband speeds - means that existing inequalities, poverty and insecurity will persist, worsen and become increasingly difficult to address.

 

September 2019

  • Income inequality has risen sharply since the 1970s in most advanced economies around the world, and has been blamed for increasingly polarised politics. While growth powered ahead in the second half of the 20th century, and resumed more fitfully after the 2008-09 financial crisis, there have been major winners and losers from the wealth generated. Sir Angus Deaton, the Nobel prize-winning economist has noted that: “There is this feeling that contemporary capitalism is not working for everybody."
  • There is widespread concern about increasing or high economic inequality in many countries, both rich and poor. At a global level, according to the World Inequality Report 2018, the richest 1% in the world reaped 27% of the growth in world income between 1980 and 2016, while the bottom 50% of the population got only 12%.
  • While in recent decades huge strides have been made in reducing illiteracy in low-income countries, 30 percent of adults from these regions will still be illiterate by 2030, according to UNESCO
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July 2019

  • Inequality is not a new phenomenon, but in recent years it has re-emerged as a social and political flash point in advanced economies and beyond, stoking public dissatisfaction. Perspectives about inequality - what it is, how it is evolving, and how to address it - are polarised. and at times, even the data used to support arguments are contested, warned McKinsey in Inequality: A persisting challenge and its implications.
  • High levels of social inequality, as reflected in differences in access to high-quality health care and education, for example, are a greater drag on a country's well-being than is high income inequality, according to the Boston Consulting Group's report, Measure Well-Being to Improve It, However, social inequality generally gets much less attention than income inequality in debate and discussion among policymakers.
  • Income inequality declined globally between 1988 and 2015, but only if one counts India and China. With those two countries removed from the dataset, income inequality has worsened in the remaining 143 countries measured in the study.

 

March 2019

 

February 2019

 

January 2019

 

December 2018

 

November 2018

 

October 2018

 

September 2018

 

July-August 2018

  • A monthly poll of public attitudes in 28 countries found that 56% of respondents felt their countries were on the wrong track, with unemployment and poverty/inequality topping the list of complaints. 
  • Long summer school breaks make inequality worse, warned Quartz. With limited access to books, museums, and educational camps, children from low-income families worldwide fall behind between academic years.
  • One way to measure inequality is to look at how easy it is for those at the bottom of the social ladder to climb their way up - to, as people would say in the US, “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” A new report from the OECD does just that, identifying the number of generations it would take those born into low-income families to approach the average income in their society. 
  • Stock buybacks are ruining economies, warned Quartz, claiming that the transfer of trillions of dollars to shareholders increases inequality and reduces corporate investment.
  • The Chartbook of Economic Equality presents the empirical evidence about long-run changes in economic inequality. The chartbook covers 25 countries – often over the course of more than one hundred years. For each country a chart shows how different dimensions of economic inequality have changed over time. A detailed description of the data sources is given for each country.

 

July 2018

  • The new World Inequality Report noted that inequality is rising in nearly every part of the globe. Much of this is driven by greater privately-owned capital and the concentration of that ownership.
  • The United Nations released a report on international development, entitled Development for Everyone. It focuses on equality, distinguishing between absolute inequality and relative inequality. It points out that in terms of the Gini coefficient, a statistical measure used to gauge a country’s income inequality, one kind of inequality is rising while the other is falling. Relative global inequality has declined steadily over the past few decades, sespite an increasing trend towards inequality within countries. By contrast, absolute inequality, measured by the absolute Gini coefficient, has increased dramatically, noted HumanProgress.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos became the richest person in modern history, with a reported net worth topping $150 billion.

 

June 2018

 

May 2018

  • One-fifth of the world’s population are unbanked, noted Quartz. Historically, it hasn’t been economically viable to provide financial services for these individuals, as they didn’t meet the minimum profitable threshold for most financial institutions. However, the introduction of new technologies has the potential to lower the cost of overcoming the hurdles that stop people entering the banking world. Emerging markets are already embracing innovative technology and developing policy to increase financial inclusion, which represents an estimated US$200 billion opportunity.
  • French economist Thomas Piketty estimates that offshore assets held by wealthy Russians exceed one year of Russia GDP. It’s a measure of the extent to which Russia’s natural wealth no longer lives in Russia.
  • Gender inequalities in the labour market start early. Even as babysitters, males are more likely to get a raise than females. And if there was an emotional connection between the female and the child, they were least likely to receive raises.

 

April 2018

  • A report from the World Bank found that South Africa is the world’s most unequal country. The top 1 percent of South Africans own 70.9 percent of the nation's wealth. The bottom 60 percent of South Africans collectively control just 7 percent.

 

January 2018

 

Pre 2018

  • The picture for the economic gap between men and women is bleak and won’t be closed for another 217 years, according to the latest World Economic Forum analysis.
  • A common yardstick for measuring societal equality is the Gini coefficient, which runs from 0 (everyone has the same income) to 1 (one person has all the income).  Most countries range between 0.25 and 0.6.  The Economist shows that the Gini coefficient has gone up a lot in some rich countries since the 1980s.  And as poor countries are on average growing faster than rich ones, inequality in the world as a whole is falling.

  • However, inequality is a complex issue, involving not just straightforward comparisons of individuals, but also comparisons over time.  Branko Milanovic, lead economist at the World Bank's research division, approaches the issue in a new and innovative way, focusing on inequality in income and wealth in different time periods and contexts: from inequality in Roman times (and how it compared with inequality today), to depictions of wealth inequality in literature (Pride and Prejudice and Anna Karenina), to inequality across generations of a single family (the three generations of Obamas illustrating this theme). As for global inequality today, Milanovic examined, in TheHavesAndHaveNots.mp3 at the LSE in 2011 the main causes (differences in average incomes between countries), the role China and India might play, and, perhaps most importantly, whether global inequality matters at all, and if does, what can we do to reduce it.

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