Global Inequality

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.