Global Inequality

Germany: Right wing seizes leadership of the SPD

The role of the Left Party

By Ulrich Rippert, 17 September 2008

The early appointment of Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier as the SPD candidate for chancellor in next year’s federal elections, and the hurried change of party leader from Kurt Beck to Franz Müntefering, means the supporters of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder now have the party once again firmly in their grasp.

Germany: New study shows “upturn” only benefits the wealthy


By Dietmar Henning, 16 September 2008

At the end of May this year, employment minister Olaf Scholz (Social Democratic Party, SPD) presented the federal government’s report on poverty and wealth, based on data up to 2006. The report clearly documents the growth of poverty.

Stockholm conference told 1 billion people without access to safe water

By Barry Mason, 10 September 2008

World Water Week, attended by around 2,500 scientists, government and civil society representatives from 140 countries, took place in Stockholm last month. It was held under the auspices of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

Britain: Alistair Darling and the implosion of the Labour government

The party’s over

By Chris Marsden, 6 September 2008

The August 30 Guardian interview with Britain’s Chancellor Alistair Darling was extraordinary in many respects. In the first place there can be few occasions that so dramatically reveal the sense of profound crisis within ruling circles in Britain.

World Bank: Two and a half billion people live on less than $2 a day

By David Walsh, 2 September 2008

The World Bank reported Tuesday that in 2005 an estimated 1.4 billion people in the so-called ‘developing world,’ one-fourth of its population, lived on less than $1.25 a day, the new official poverty line. This figure is 400 million more than the Bank’s 2004 estimate of 985 million. Another 1.2 billion people live on between $1.25 and $2 a day.

Global food price rises exacerbate famine in Ethiopia and Somalia

By Barry Mason, 3 July 2008

It is not unusual for Ethiopia and Somalia to be hit by drought and food shortages, but this year the rise in food costs makes an already disastrous situation worse.

The world food crisis and the capitalist market

Part Three

By Alex Lantier, 10 June 2008

This is the third and concluding part of a series of articles on the world food crisis. Part one was posted June 7. Part two appeared on June 9.

United Nations conference offers derisory level of aid for millions hit by food prices

By Paul Mitchell, 9 June 2008

The summit on soaring food prices, convened by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome last week, was dominated by fears of social unrest brought about by the rising price of food staples and a dramatic increase in the price of fuel.

The world food crisis and the capitalist market

Part Two

By Alex Lantier, 9 June 2008

This is the second part of a three-part series of articles on the world food crisis. Part one was posted June 7. The third and concluding part will be posted June 10.

The world food crisis and the capitalist market

Part One

By Alex Lantier, 7 June 2008

This is the first part of a three-part series of articles on the world food crisis. Part two will be posted June 9.

Global survey reveals growing anger over social inequality

By Bill Van Auken, 20 May 2008

The unprecedented accumulation of wealth by a narrow financial elite under conditions of declining real incomes for the vast majority of the world’s population is creating mounting discontent and anger.

Financial speculators reap profits from global hunger

By Stefan Steinberg, 24 April 2008

A series of reports in the international media have drawn attention to the role of professional speculators and hedge funds in driving up the price of basic commodities—in particular, foodstuffs. The sharp increase in food prices in recent months has led to protests and riots in a number of countries across the globe.

Amid mounting food crisis, governments fear revolution of the hungry

By Bill Van Auken, 15 April 2008

Last week’s meetings in Washington of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Group of Seven were convened in the shadow of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. While Wall Street’s turmoil and the deepening credit crunch dominated discussions, leaders of the global financial institutions were forced to take note of the growing global food emergency, warning of the threat of widespread hunger and already emerging political instability.

UNICEF report: Infant mortality rates still high

By Barry Mason, 31 January 2008

Nearly 10 million children under five died worldwide in 2006, according to a new report. That is a daily rate of 26,000 deaths.

Severe food shortages, price spikes threaten world population

By Naomi Spencer, 22 December 2007

Worldwide food prices have risen sharply and supplies have dropped this year, according to the latest food outlook of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The agency warned December 17 that the changes represent an “unforeseen and unprecedented” shift in the global food system, threatening billions with hunger and decreased access to food.

Jury awards damages to Central American Dole workers

By D. Lencho, 23 November 2007

A jury in Los Angeles Superior Court has awarded close to $6 million to six workers in a lawsuit against corporate giants Dole Fresh Fruit Co. and Dow Chemical Co. The suit was filed in 2004 by 12 Central American men who worked at a Dole banana plantation in Nicaragua during the 1970s. The workers claimed they were made sterile by exposure to a Dow pesticide used by Dole.

World Wealth Report: a census of the global oligarchy

By Alex Lantier, 12 July 2007

The 2007 World Wealth Report, released last month by European consulting firm Cap Gemini and Wall Street firm Merrill Lynch, documents the numerical and financial growth of “high net worth individuals” (HNWIs)—individuals with over $1 million in financial assets—over the past year. The report provides a picture not only of growing wealth among the richest layers of society, but also an increasing concentration of wealth at the very top.

Forbes 2007 list: Nearly one thousand billionaires in the world, a misfortune for humanity

By David Walsh, 10 March 2007

Forbes magazine released its annual list of billionaires Thursday. There are now nearly one thousand billionaires worldwide—946 to be exact, according to the magazine’s calculations—and their combined wealth in the past year grew by 35 percent to $3.5 trillion.

US and UK worst places in developed world to be a child

By Ann Talbot, 16 February 2007

The United States and Britain are the worst places in the major industrialised nations to be a child, according to a new report produced by Unicef. The organisation, which usually highlights the plight of child soldiers and children living in poverty in the so-called developing world, has turned the spotlight on 21 wealthy OECD countries. Its findings have exposed the appalling results of growing social inequality in both the UK and US. The report thoroughly refutes the claims of both governments to be reducing child poverty.

Financial Times cautions the “plutocrats”

By David Walsh, 29 December 2006

The Financial Times, Britain’s leading financial newspaper, published a remarkable editorial December 27 entitled “Seasonal cheers for new philanthropists.”

Report documents extreme levels of global wealth inequality

By Joe Kay, 8 December 2006

A report released Tuesday by a United Nations group documents the staggering levels of global inequality in household wealth. The report gives a partial portrait of a world society characterized by extreme concentrations of wealth in the hands of the richest sections of the population, with the position of much of the remainder ranging from general economic insecurity to dire poverty.

Worldwide drive to privatise water

By Paul Mitchell, 13 September 2006

According to the charity WaterAid “not a single additional person” has benefited from the promises the European Union made nearly five years ago regarding water and sanitation projects for the world’s poorest people.

Hunger and malnutrition increase in many parts of the world

By Barry Mason, 7 June 2006

Amongst the primary Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) proclaimed at the turn of the new century by the United Nations were the eradication of extreme poverty and a halving of the numbers suffering hunger across the globe by 2015.

Financial Times columnist warns about social inequality in US

By Ann Talbot, 24 February 2006

The Financial Times columnist Samuel Brittan, one of the first monetarist economists in Britain, has issued a warning that the United States cannot allow the gap between the pay of top executives and the rest of society to continue to grow on the present scale. He calls for redistributive taxation to redress the situation. [1]

UN Human Development Report pleads for reform as poverty and misery deepen

By Peter Daniels, 16 September 2005

The latest Human Development Report issued by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) documents the growing inequality and absolute decline in living standards and social conditions in large areas of the world.

G8 agrees to paltry debt forgiveness package

By Chris Marsden and Julie Hyland, 15 June 2005

G8 finance ministers have proclaimed the June 11 debt relief package for some of the world’s poorest countries as an historic agreement. In reality, the deal confirms the folly of looking to the imperialist powers for a resolution to the suffering of the oppressed peoples of Africa, Asia and South America.

Social mobility lower in US and Britain than in other advanced countries

By Jean Shaoul, 25 May 2005

A recent report focuses on how education affects the life chances of British children, compared with those in other countries. Researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE) and Bristol University examined the extent of intergenerational mobility—where children from the most and least affluent families end up in the earnings or income distribution scale as adults.

Forbes reports bonanza for world’s billionaires

By Simon Whelan, 9 May 2005

Business magazine Forbes introduced its yearly world rich list with the understatement, “The rich had a very good year.”

UNICEF study shows child poverty increasing in advanced countries

By Elizabeth Zimmermann, 1 April 2005

At the beginning of March, the United Nations child welfare organisation UNICEF presented a new study showing a rise in child poverty in advanced capitalist countries. Child Poverty in Rich Countries 2005 was prepared for UNICEF by the Innocenti Research Centre in Florence, Italy, and can be downloaded from

One billion children worldwide suffering deprivation

By Barry Mason, 24 December 2004

One billion children are suffering from one or more forms of deprivation according to the latest UNICEF report.

Merrill-Lynch report: concentration of wealth at the top resumed upward spiral in 2003

By Jamie Chapman, 22 June 2004

As hundreds of millions around the globe struggle to survive on a dollar or two a day, the ranks of the rich and the ultra-rich continue to grow.

World Bank chief admits United Nations development goals cannot be met

By Barry Mason, 18 May 2004

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund issued a report on April 16 that accepts the millennium development goals (MDGs) will not be achieved. The MDGs were established at the United Nations General Assembly summit in 2000. Their stated aim was to cut by half the number of people in the world’s poorest countries suffering poverty, hunger and ill-health.

Forbes report: Billionaires’ wealth grew by 36 percent in last year

By Jamie Chapman, 9 March 2004

While at least a billion people on the planet subsist on the equivalent of a dollar a day or less, the concentration of wealth among a handful of people at the top has set new records. In its current issue, Forbes magazine lists a record 587 individuals and family units worth $1 billion or more, an increase from 476 in 2003. The combined wealth of this year’s billionaires also reached record levels—a staggering $1.9 trillion, an increase of $500 billion in just one year, due largely to resurging stock prices over the last 12 months.

Women workers face super-exploitation by global corporations

By Barry Mason, 25 February 2004

An Oxfam report, Trading Away Our Rights: Women working in global supply chains, highlights the plight of women working in garment and food production supplying goods to major Western retail companies.

One third of the world’s urban population lives in a slum

By Simon Whelan, 17 February 2004

Late in 2003 the United Nations reported that one billion people—approximately one third of the world’s urban dwellers and a sixth of all humanity, live in slums. And it predicted that within 30 years that figure would have doubled to two billion—a third of the current world population.

World Health Report: Life expectancy falls in poorest countries

By Barry Mason, 12 January 2004

Stark global inequalities in health are revealed in the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) report. World Health Report 2003 highlights “the slowing of gains and the widening of health gaps.”

Why are retirement pensions under attack?

By Jean Shaoul, 17 November 2003

Under the guise of reform, pensions are under attack in virtually every industrialised country in the world. As a result, millions of workers face appalling poverty and isolation in their last years and pensions are fast becoming one of the most bitterly contested political issues.

OECD study shows growing gulf between rich and poor

By Dietmar Henning, 12 September 2002

Differences in income in the developed industrial countries increased greatly between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s. This is the result of a study undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Europe (OECD). Those faring worst in the re-division of wealth were single parents and young people.

Sri Lankan family alleges woman victim of human organ theft

By Joanne Laurier, 30 August 2002

One of the most gruesome expressions of international social inequality is the trade in human organs and, more particularly, the murder and dismemberment of poor and defenseless people for their organs.

UNICEF documents failure to alleviate child poverty and disease

By Ben Nichols, 22 April 2002

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently released its report entitled The State of the World’s Children 2002, detailing the terrible predicament facing millions of children more than a decade after the organisation convened its World Summit for Children in 1990.

Report shows impact of poor sanitation on world’s health

By Barry Mason, 18 April 2002

A report entitled “The Human Waste”, issued by the British charity Water Aid and Tearfund, a British relief and development agency, details the horrific consequences of poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water.

World Bank admits 85 percent of world’s population has no retirement income

By Jean Shaoul, 18 July 2001

Less than 15 percent of the world’s population over 65 years of age now receive any income in retirement, according to New Ideas about Old Age Security, a book published recently by the World Bank.

Oxfam report says "rigged trade" is widening gap between rich and poor countries

By Trevor Johnson, 16 June 2001

A recent report by the charity, Oxfam, contains figures showing how the richer more industrialised nations rig trade in their favour, at the expense of the poorest countries.

Governments resort to police violence against international May Day protests

By James Conachy, 3 May 2001

May Day demonstrations around the world on Tuesday gave voice to growing discontent over poverty, unemployment and the impact of global capitalism on the lives of ordinary people. Alarmed at the rising tide of protest, many governments responded with police violence.

UN agency reports more than 800 million hungry worldwide

By Debra Watson, 17 January 2001

At the beginning of the new millenium the number of hungry people in the world stands at 830 million according to officials of the World Food Program (WFP), the United Nations agency responsible for distributing food aid.

United Nations meets in crisis at Millennium Summit

By Julie Hyland, 15 September 2000

The three-day United Nations Millennium Summit in New York, which brought together 189 world leaders, ended last Friday. The summit was ostensibly called to define the UN's role in the twenty first century.

UN world report documents widespread poverty, illiteracy and disease

By Margaret Rees, 7 July 2000

The United Nations recently released its Human Development Report 2000. Commenting in the introduction, “One of the 20th century's hallmark achievements was its progress in human rights,” the report proceeds on this contentious premise to make its assessment of major issues of global concern.

UN report examines high levels of child poverty in the richest countries

By Joseph Tanniru, 16 June 2000

A new report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) details the persistent effect of massive social inequality on the world's children. The report—the first in a series of “Report Cards” issued by UNICEF—examines child poverty in the world's richest nations.

Slavery in the modern era

Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, by Kevin Bales

By Peter Stackley, 9 September 1999

University of California Press, 1999, $24.95, ISBN 0-520217-97-7

UNICEF report cites declining levels of education and literacy world-wide

By Vilani Peiris, 19 May 1999

According to a recent report released by UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), nearly one billion of the world's population is entering the twenty-first century without even the basic literacy skill of signing their names. Relatively few can operate a computer or comprehend a simple application form. The report reveals that people without literacy skills usually live in extreme poverty and unhygienic conditions, compared to those who are literate.