Newscast Media HOUSTON—According to a recent report released by the United
Nations Development Program (UNDP) the richest eight per cent of the world’s
population earns half of the world’s total income, while the remaining 92 per cent of
people are left with the other half.
Last week, Oxfam released a report estimating that the share of global wealth owned
by the world’s 85 wealthiest people is roughly that owned by the poorest 3.5 billion.
That leaves a tiny fraction for the world’s poorest people. Indeed, the share of global
wealth controlled by the world’s poorest thirty per cent fell from just 1.5 per cent in
1988 to one and a quarter (1.25) per cent in 2008.
Evidence suggests that where economic power is heavily concentrated in the hands
of a few, political power may also be entrenched in the hands of elites with undue
influence. This then creates structural barriers to the promotion of greater equality;
for example, through regressive taxation or under-investment in public goods and
infrastructure such as education or public health systems and services.
High inequalities may also be associated with high crime rates and political
unrest. The resulting risk-levels may then distort public spending towards security
measures and away from those essential for human development progress.
The Report documents high rates of inequality in the non-income dimensions of
well-being – such as health, nutrition, and education – despite improvements in
national averages of progress in these areas. It calls for increasing public expenditure
on basic services, with the aim of achieving universal provisioning, coupled with a
particular emphasis on the groups currently experiencing the greatest disadvantages.