Please see below selected recent equality-related change.
- What's New? - Equality
- What's Changing? - Gender
- What's Changing? - Animals
- What's Changing? - Basic Income
- In Global Inequality, economist Branko Milanović corroborated the growing sense that the gap between rich and poor is widening. Milanović, who continues to view capitalism as the most effective way of lifting countries out of poverty and also considers economic growth to be a prerequisite for wealth creation, nevertheless, warned that growing inequality poses a real threat to democracy.
- Following five years of military rule, Thailand reportedly became the most unequal country in the world.
- White farmers still control about 70 percent of farms in South Africa that are held by individual owners, according to government statistics.
- Quartz claimed that only six countries give women the same rights as men. A World Bank report found just a tiny group of nations that treat men and women the same, legally speaking.
- Women of colour take more risks at work, as being accustomed to inequality helps encourage bold moves in the office, claimed Quartz.
- Further reading:
- A report from Oxfam – released to coincide with Davos – shows that the world’s 26 richest people own as much as half the planet’s people. Addressing such large disparities may require coordinated action at the global level – some, for example, have proposed a wealth tax.
- Organisational gender equality is no longer confined to the realm of human resources, but has become a boardroom issue all over the world, as leaders realise the benefits that a balanced workforce can have. Yet there’s no simple fix or approach that can ensure equality is beneficial to organisations, warned Raconteur.
- A study measured the effect having children has on a woman’s salary, across six countries. In Germany, after ten years, a typical mother was earning 61% less than she was before she gave birth. In America and Britain it was about 40%, and in Sweden and Denmark 27% and 21% respectively. Men’s earnings in all countries were virtually unaffected by parenthood. Cultural attitudes and public policy largely account for the difference, according to The Economist.
- Further reading:
- There is currently not a single country in the world in which women have the same economic opportunities as men, according to a World Economic Forum report.The opportunity gap applies at the global level as well, where today there are just 17 female heads of state or prime ministers across the 149 countries tracked by WEF.
- Human rights law guarantees rights, including to education, healthcare and social security, that have redistributive potential and so have the potential to mitigate inequality, noted Chatham House. International human rights law has come to embody a commitment to tackling substantive inequalities which impair human dignity. This requires the state to regulate markets, and redistribute resources, in order to prevent discrimination against disadvantaged groups such as the poor.
- The global pay gap between men and women will take 202 years to close, because it is so vast and the pace of change so slow, according to the World Economic Forum, which said the gap has narrowed slightly, but the number of women in the professional workplace has fallen.
- The 21st century poses new and multiple challenges to public services, including an increased number of poor people, widening inequality, jobless economic growth, multi-dimensional security threats, persistent food insecurity and the irreversible impact of climate change.
- The net worth of the world’s 2,158 billionaires rose 19 percent in 2017, to $8.9 trillion or roughly 10 percent of global GDP - the biggest increase on record, according to UBS. Chinese billionaires ended the year 39 percent richer and Asia also surpassed the US in the total number of billionaires for the first time ever.
- In 2017, according to the BBC perhaps the first year with reliable wealth measurement data drawn from national statistics, the top 1% wealthiest people in the world owned more than the rest of the population put together. But when survey researchers ask people to guess what proportion of the wealth the top 1% in their respective countries own, they’re often way out, as seen in Ipsos’ Perils of Perception studies.
- Quartz’s year-long examination of the fight for gender equality at work profiled 50 men around the world and in a variety of fields who opened up to about Me Too, feminism, their biggest insecurities about being a man, and the biased behaviours they would take back if they could.
- One source of income inequality is prejudice. Unconscious (and conscious) attitudes direct opportunities more to favoured groups and steer them away from those on the outs. Forbes noted that Silicon Valley types assumed they could solve the problem like any other - with software, by having artificial intelligence look at the patterns and make the decisions. Then came the warning signs in research that AI-driven systems were maybe not as free of bias as their creators thought - for example, Amazon dropped recruiting software that used AI because it preferred to hire men over women.
- Participation in youth sports is down, but not due to screen time, noted Quartz. Inequality is dividing young athletes into the well-off on travelling teams and local leftovers.
- When aggregated in terms of income, Our World in data noted that the richest half (high and upper-middle income countries) emit 86 percent of global CO2 emissions. The bottom half (low and lower-middle income) only 14%. The very poorest countries (home to 9 percent of the global population) are responsible for just 0.5 percent. This provides a strong indication of the relative sensitivity of global emissions to income versus population. Even several billion additional people in low-income countries - where fertility rates and population growth is already highest - would leave global emissions almost unchanged. 3 or 4 billion low income individuals would only account for a few percent of global CO2. At the other end of the distribution however, adding only one billion high income individuals would increase global emissions by almost one-third.
- Quartz analysed an experiment that could bring internet to millions of people. In a rural part of northern USA, too sparsely populated for big providers to bother with, is a project beaming internet over otherwise unused TV waves. For millions in the US and beyond, it could be the key to joining the modern era.
- Caste-based crime in India has increased by 25 percent since 2010, reaching 41,000 incidents in 2016, the latest year for which data is available. One factor contributing to the rise in violence is a backlash against lower castes who are increasingly advocating for more rights, noted GZEROMedia.
- The World Bank warned how little progress there has been in financial equality: the proportion of people with active bank accounts has stagnated and the gap in financial inclusion between men and women has stayed the same.
- Nevertheless, according to The Economist, while the 27 richest individuals in the world have an estimated combined worth of $1.39trn - more than the entire wealth of the poorest half of humanity, new and improved estimates suggest that the one-percenters’ share of wealth may have peaked or levelled off. Between 2016 and 2018, it fell in Brazil, Britain, France, Germany, India and Russia and flattened out in America, Canada, China, Italy and Japan.
- Would a meritocratic society provide a fair equality of opportunity? Can discrimination based on merit ever be justified, or should we aim to solve social inequality through equality of outcome? A philosopher discussed with the iAi what be believes are current myths of meritocracy and inequality in society, confronting the difficult issues of family inheritance and the class system beneath it.
- Raconteur warned that extreme inequality, occasioned by widespread automation, should be a major concern for politicians the world over, far more pressing than job losses in manufacturing alone.
- Raconteur also argued that the moral argument for a more diverse and inclusive workplace is undeniable, though proving a business case for driving change is less clear. Organisational equality is no longer confined to the realm of human resources, but has become a boardroom issue all over the world. Yet there’s no simple fix or approach that can ensure equality is beneficial to organisations. Change needs to be focused on workplace culture itself and embedded into the business strategy if we are to see any meaningful improvement in gender equality.
- An iAi debate claimed that, from the Royal family to the Untouchables of the Indian caste system, we know the accident of birth has a radical and unfair impact on our lives, but asked whether we could imagine a world where family ties and inheritance were broken in favour of a more equal world. Would a 100% inheritance tax fix economic injustice, or would this undermine the very thing that gives our life meaning, asked the iAi.
- The Inclusive Development Index (IDI) is an annual assessment of 103 countries’ economic performance that measures how countries perform on eleven dimensions of economic progress in addition to GDP. It has 3 pillars; growth and development; inclusion and; intergenerational equity – sustainable stewardship of natural and financial resources.
- Communications firm are helping reduce digital inequality by providing access to broadband, through their satellite-enabled wi-fi services to isolated regions across the world.
- Japan, almost uniquely among the large democracies, has had no problem with disruptive right-wing populism in recent years. Relatively low-income inequality is surely one reason for that, believes GZEROMedia.
- Read more:
- “For more substantial levelling to occur, the established order needs to be shaken up,” claimed Walter Scheidel, a professor at Stanford University. In his book, The Great Leveller, Scheidel posited that throughout history, economic inequality has only been erased by warfare, revolution, state collapse and plague. The Economist interviewed Scheidel about how society needs to be more creative when it come to tackling inequality.
- A study found huge differences in life expectancies across America, from 97.5 years down to 56, the same as in Somalia. The study suggests that income and race play a huge part in this inequality. It corroborates other research that shows that in America, the rich can afford to live longer,
- Quartz noted that, on average, men die younger than women. Men are also more likely than women to die prematurely, from causes ranging from alcoholism to heart disease to suicide. But a new report from the World Health Organisation found that, in Europe, those problems are particularly acute in countries with the lowest levels of gender equality”.
- The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development says that the world will not even achieve 50% internet use until the end of 2018. If the world maintains current internet user growth rates - a big if we won’t approach 100% global internet adoption for well over two decades. This could exacerbate the current fault lines of global inequality, warned the World Economic Forum. Internet use is overwhelmingly concentrated in advanced economies, and the biggest gaps are in the world’s poorest areas.
- Warning that South Africa won’t become less violent until it’s more equal, Quartz argued that inequality is the best predictor of whether a country will experience high or low levels of crime.
- The 2017 report from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association listed 72 countries and territories where same-sex relationships remain criminalised.
- Further reading:
- 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.
- 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.
- In the United States, income for the top 0.1 percent of earners rose 321 percent from 1978 to 2015. The bottom 50 percent saw their income fall by 1 percent.
- Recently, the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society put out a manifesto – a call for action to the G7 governments. It asked the G7 to take seven key steps for women’s empowerment and gender equality, such as leading by example in the public sector by using gender budgeting and placing women in decision-making roles; ensuring equal access to advanced technological education for equal outcomes for women; and drawing on women’s leadership where possible.
- A new study on the geography of inequality suggests that living in a poor neighbourhood can change your biology, with for example perceived discrimination contributing to poorer mental and physical health among ethnic minorities.
- An African American man is reportedly now six times more likely to be arrested than a white man, resulting in the dismal statistic that one in every three African American men can currently expect to be imprisoned in their lifetime
- Cultural integration and political representation are at an all-time high for LGBT communities around the world, claimed Quartz, which is exploring what this means for the global economy in a newseries, Global Pride. Through the lens of health, travel, fitness, and politics, Quartz reporters take a deep dive into stories that it believes are relevant to all global citizens (LGBT or not).
- Wealth inequality is one of the great moral issues of our time, claimed Big Think. In an era when the world has more money than ever before, billions still live on less than $3 a day. The disparity becomes more striking in the light of studies that show most income inequality comes down to luck, with people of average talent able to shoot to the top of the ladder by being in the right place at the right time.
- Many explanations of income inequality focus on wages or tax law. But the different ways in which the poor and the rich pay for goods and services conceal a form of wealth redistribution that widens the divide. Affluent consumers use credit cards stuffed with rewards, while those at the other end of the income spectrum pay in cash that might come from payday loans or incur overdraft fees. A 2018 article offered insights on how skewed US payment systems bankroll benefits to the wealthy at the expense of the less well-off.
- 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.
- 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.
- Income inequality has been declining for the last three decades on a global level as countries in Asia and elsewhere play catch-up with more developed economies. Globalised trade and market liberalisation have facilitated the rise of the middle class in these emerging markets, particularly in China, India and sub-Saharan Africa, and is contributing to wealth accumulation. However, in developed countries like the U.S., U.K., Canada, Ireland and Australia, the top 1% have disproportionately benefited from economic growth.
- 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.