The Common Good
December 2005

Mind the Gap

by James Ferguson | December 2005

Mind the Gap

Two recent reports examining global economic inequality emphasize the need for substantive economic policy changes. “The Inequality Predicament,” published by the United Nations, warns that growing “economic and social inequality will continue to breed violence and terror if the trend is not reversed.” The World Bank’s “Equity and Development” report states that redistribution of wealth, along with incentives for economic growth, is necessary for reducing global poverty. Traditionally, the World Bank has promoted neo-liberal economic models based only on growth, while ignoring that those same models increased inequity and ultimately destabilized economies. Below are a few findings:

1 billion: The number of people in the developed world, which controls 80% of the global GDP (the 5 billion people in developing countries share the other 20%).
40: The percentage of children in Chad who have not been immunized. In comparison, nearly all children in Egypt have been immunized.
12 to 27 million: The number of people estimated to be in forced labor or slavery in the world today. Most are female sex workers.
64: The percentage of people with HIV/AIDS who live in sub-Saharan Africa. Another 18% live in South and Southeast Asia.
$900 billion: The amount spent annually around the world on arms and other weapons of destruction.
$150 billion: The amount needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which would cut world poverty in half.

Sources: “The Inequality Predicament” (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2005); “Equity and Development” (World Bank’s World Development Report 2006).

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