Global Inequality

Trillions hidden in tax havens by super-rich, corporations

By Julien Kiemle, 30 May 2013

The ultra-wealthy, banks and corporations have some $32 trillion of wealth hidden in off-shore tax havens, according to a leaked cache of information.

Apple’s tax dodge: The case for public ownership

By Andre Damon, 24 May 2013

As social services are slashed allegedly because there is “no money,” Apple, the most profitable company in history, has avoided paying taxes on over $70 billion in income.

Over four billion people worldwide lack adequate sanitation

By Bryan Dyne, 26 February 2013

Lack of sewerage treatment contributes to contamination problems for the majority of the world’s population.

Study exposes global recession’s heavy toll on girls and women

By Kristina Betinis, 1 February 2013

The global financial crisis has taken a heavier toll on the basic conditions of girls and women when compared to the world’s population as a whole.

Corporate criminals, billionaires gather for World Economic Forum in Davos

By Andre Damon, 23 January 2013

The 44th annual World Economic Forum began Wednesday, bringing over 2,000 corporate executives, major investors, government leaders, central bankers and celebrities to the Swiss Alpine resort.

Billionaires gain as living standards fall

By Patrick Martin, 11 January 2013

The world’s 100 richest people increased their wealth by $241 billion in 2012.

Deepening social inequality and poverty in New Zealand

By John Braddock, 25 October 2012

Two recent reports detail the falling incomes of working people and rising levels of poverty, especially among children.

New Zealand “Rich List” reveals deepening social divide

By John Braddock, 7 August 2012

The wealthiest New Zealanders have not suffered from the austerity drive being imposed on the working class.

Global elite descend on East London for Olympics

By Paul Stuart, 27 July 2012

The Royal Dock complex, adjacent to London’s financial district at Canary Wharf, is hosting up to one hundred super yachts, including twenty of the world’s most opulent, as the Olympic Games begin.

World social inequality more pronounced than ever

By Ernst Wolff, 26 July 2012

The super-rich are currently hiding away between $21 trillion and $32 trillion in tax havens such as Switzerland or the Cayman Islands.

The new aristocracy

By Andre Damon, 28 June 2012

As governments throughout the world close schools, lay off workers and slash support to the poor, old and sick, the financial oligarchy that rules the world increases its wealth and power.

Today’s social divide and the Charles Dickens bicentenary

By John Clayton and Paul Bond, 23 February 2012

A comment on the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of English novelist Charles Dickens.

Half a billion children at risk for malnutrition

By Kate Randall, 17 February 2012

Save the Children warns that half a billion children around the world could grow up physically and mentally stunted over the next 15 years due to chronic malnutrition.

Apple’s sweatshop supply chain

By Ben McGrath, 7 February 2012

Apple’s Supplier Responsibility Progress Report is a cynical public relations exercise designed to whitewash the company’s image.

Mounting social struggles cast shadow over Davos economic summit

By Nick Beams, 28 January 2012

A new factor has entered the scene—the re-emergence of the international working class as exemplified in the Egyptian revolution and the ongoing social struggles around the world.

China’s list of billionaires expands again

By John Chan, 17 September 2011

The burgeoning list of billionaires has put China ever closer to the United States as the largest home of the super-rich, even as China’s average per-capita income ranks just 94th in the world.

Rising longevity masks growing life expectancy inequalities in Britain

By Simon Walker, 21 July 2011

The rich are living sometimes eleven years longer than workers in the poorest areas of Britain.

UN report hits German social policies

By Elizabeth Zimmermann, 13 July 2011

The government in Berlin comes in for sharp criticism in a United Nations report on the social situation in Germany.

Capitalism and the climate change crisis

By Patrick O’Connor, 11 June 2011

Record levels of greenhouse gas emission constitute a damning indictment of the capitalist system.

International food crisis due to agribusinesses and speculation

By Barry Mason, 10 June 2011

The international development charity Oxfam issued a report this month highlighting the growing global food crisis.

Chasm widens between UK workers and financial elite

By Simon Walker, 7 June 2011

It was only weeks ago that the Sunday Times Rich List revealed how the international super-rich who reside in the UK have over the past two years fully restored their levels of wealth to pre-2008 levels.

Behind the battle over new IMF chief

By Nick Beams, 21 May 2011

In the midst of the Strauss-Kahn crisis, a World Bank report pointed to vast shifts underway in the structure of the world economy, which indicate that the conflict over the IMF leadership is just one of many to come.

Shanghai: Grinding poverty amid corporate opulence

By Jean Shaoul, 5 April 2011

Amid Shanghai’s commercial opulence, there is grinding poverty and deprivation on an even greater scale in this city of 20 million people.

Hong Kong: A tale of two cities

By Jean Shaoul, 17 March 2011

Social discontent in Hong Kong has been fuelled by a sharp rise in home prices and rents, which have doubled in the last five years.

Budget that enriches financial elite sparks protest in Hong Kong

By Jean Shaoul, 17 March 2011

Protestors took to the streets in downtown Hong Kong on March 6 to oppose the government’s budget, which will further enrich the financial elite.

Canada’s richest 1 percent grabbed one-third of all income growth since 1987

By Keith Jones, 9 December 2010

A study published last week shows that social inequality in Canada has now reached levels unseen since the 1920s, with the richest 1 percent of Canadians appropriating 13.8 percent of all market income.

UN agency predicts global food crisis as prices soar

By Barry Mason, 27 November 2010

A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report published this month warns that food price increases are “dangerously close” to crisis level.

IMF-ILO conference warns of political upheavals

By Richard Phillips, 28 September 2010

European Commissioner Laszlo Andor described 2010 as an “annus horribilis” for unemployment, but warned that “2011 may still turn out to be the annus horribilis for social cohesion”.

UN “poverty summit” exposes failure of world capitalism

By Bill Van Auken, 23 September 2010

The “poverty summit” that concluded at the United Nations Wednesday only underscored capitalism’s responsibility for conditions of desperate poverty and hunger which have deepened worldwide as a result of the global financial crisis.

Austerity for workers, tax cuts for business—Europe’s class policy

By Stefan Steinberg, 8 July 2010

A new report reveals that in the wake of the most serious economic crisis since the 1930s, European governments are continuing to cut corporate taxes while increasing the tax burden on the working population.

Egypt gripped by social unrest

By Jean Shaoul, 13 May 2010

On May 11, the Egyptian parliament approved a presidential decree extending the state of emergency for a further two-year period.

Global labour figures point to rising tide of joblessness

By Alex Messenger, 5 May 2010

The worldwide economic crisis has thrown tens of millions of workers—especially those in the youngest and oldest cohorts—into permanent unemployment

Sunday Times Rich List shows fortunes of British super-rich soar by a third

By David O’Sullivan and Socialist Equality Party candidate for Oxford East, 29 April 2010

The latest annual Sunday Times Rich List reveals a massive increase in the wealth of Britain’s super-rich.

German executives awarded themselves millions in 2009

By Elizabeth Zimmermann, 17 March 2010

The chief executives of the companies and banks listed in the German stock exchange index DAX pocketed millions in 2009 despite the economic crisis and a sharp slump in industrial production.

World’s billionaires grew 50 percent richer in 2009

By Andre Damon, 12 March 2010

The world’s billionaires saw their wealth grow by 50 percent last year, and their ranks swell to 1,011, from 793, according to the latest Forbes list of billionaires.

Banks demand austerity measures against “profligate” countries

By Barry Grey, 25 February 2010

With the eruption of the European sovereign debt crisis, a new category has emerged in the bourgeois press—“profligate countries.”

British Labour presides over increase in inequality

By Paul Bond, 6 February 2010

A report commissioned by the Labour government shows how its pro-business agenda during its 13 years in office has led to a dramatic increase in inequality.

Britain: Young mother commits suicide and kills her son after months of poverty

By Julie Hyland, 15 December 2009

Earlier this month, a London Coroner’s Court heard that on June 13 this year, Christelle Pardo leapt from the sixth-floor balcony of her sister’s flat in Hackney, east London, holding her five-month-old son Kayjah in her arms.

UN abandons hunger reduction target

By Barry Mason, 18 November 2009

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation abandoned its hunger reduction targets in advance of the World Food Summit on Food Security that opened in Rome on November 16. Instead, it will now aim “to take action towards sustainably eradicating hunger at the earliest possible date.”

Food Summit in Rome presents “watered down” goals

By James Brewer, 17 November 2009

The opening of the Food Summit in Rome revealed the indifference of major world leaders toward famine.

Almost 200 million children undernourished in poor countries

By James Brewer, 13 November 2009

There are currently 195 million children under the age of five in underdeveloped countries whose growth is stunted due to chronic malnutrition, according to a UN agency.

BBC poll shows widespread disaffection with capitalism

By Julie Hyland, 12 November 2009

A global poll by the British Broadcasting Corporation shows widespread disaffection with the capitalist free-market, including a significant opposition to capitalism per se.

More than 1 billion hungry, UN agencies report

By Tom Eley, 15 October 2009

More than 1 billion people will go hungry in 2009, two UN agencies reported on Wednesday, an increase of over 100 million people in one year.

UN reports 1 billion of the world’s people going hungry

By Jerry White, 18 September 2009

For the first time in history, more than one billion people, or nearly one in every 6 inhabitants of the planet, are going hungry this year.

More than 1 billion people hungry worldwide in 2009

By Joe Kishore, 20 June 2009

Humanity will achieve the dubious distinction this year of having more than 1 billion members of its species living in hunger for the first time in history.

UN warns global jobs crisis may last eight years

By Bill Van Auken, 4 June 2009

The International Labor Organization issued a report Wednesday predicting that the jobs crisis sweeping the globe may last for eight years and warning that sustained high levels of unemployment will unleash social and political unrest.

British Labour’s divisive Equality Bill

By Julie Hyland, 9 May 2009

Far from promoting equality in any meaningful sense, the government’s Equality Bill advocates identity politics as window dressing for the growth of class inequality under Labour’s rule.

World Bank president warns economic crisis poses “human calamity”

By Andre Damon, 28 April 2009

As finance ministers meeting in Washington failed to adopt any new policies to confront the deepening world economic crisis, the head of the World Bank warned that it threatens to unleash “a human and developmental calamity.”

IMF and World Bank reports predict bleak future for Africa

By Trevor Johnson, 2 April 2009

The IMF predicts the global economic crisis will have a huge and disproportionate impact on sub-Saharan Africa.

More than one billion to go hungry in 2009

By Hiram Lee, 2 April 2009

The financial and economic crisis threatens to sharply increase the number of people suffering from hunger, despite a recent decline in food prices.

Global slump could throw 53 million more people into poverty

By Mike Head, 16 February 2009

Up to 53 million more people around the world could fall into poverty in 2009 as a result of the global economic slump, highlighting the worldwide character of the social catastrophe unleashed by the deepening crisis.

UNICEF report: Half a million women die from pregnancy complications each year

By Oliver Richards, 20 January 2009

A report by UNICEF finds that women living in the least developed countries of the world are 300 times more likely to die as a result of childbirth or pregnancy-related complications than women living in the developed countries.

Faces of foreclosure in Pittsburgh

Working class families feel brunt of housing crisis

By Samuel Davidson, 22 December 2008

The WSWS spoke to homeowners threatened with foreclosure at a recent meeting in Pittsburgh.

Nearly 1 billion of world’s people face chronic hunger

By Oliver Richards, 13 December 2008

The number of undernourished people in the world has increased from 923 million in 2007 to 963 million in 2008.

Michigan GM worker answers attack by New York Times columnist

By Jerry White, 27 November 2008

The WSWS spoke to GM worker Kandy O’Neil, inviting her to respond to a New York Times column criticizing her for insisting that auto workers should not be forced to pay for the crisis in the industry.

Death toll, public outrage rise in aftermath of Haiti school collapse

By Naomi Spencer, 11 November 2008

At least 94 school children have been killed, and at least 150 more injured, as a result of last Friday’s collapse of a school in Petionville, Haiti. Rescue workers continued to search through the rubble for survivors on Monday.

Britain: Labour, the Conservatives and the oligarchs

By Julie Hyland, 25 October 2008

A row over relations between Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, Labour’s Peter Mandelson and Conservative Party shadow chancellor George Osborne has brought to light the intimate relations between Britain’s major parties and the global financial oligarchy.

Ethiopian famine significantly worsens as Western powers fail to respond

By Barry Mason, 11 October 2008

Oxfam has reported that the number of Ethiopians needing emergency food assistance has jumped to 6.4 million from 4.6 million in June.

Britain: Forty percent of children live in poverty

By Peter Reydt, 3 October 2008

More than 40 percent of children in the United Kingdom are living in poverty, according to the latest research. That is some 5.5 million children.

WHO report discloses extent of global health inequality

By Barry Mason, 25 September 2008

In August the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a report, “Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health.”

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.