Thursday, October 18, 2012

Update on Global Income Inequality

This global map of the gini coefficient (thanks to  Wikipedia Commons) show that South Africa has greater income inequality than almost any other country in the world. The gini coefficient ranges between 0 and 1, and a higher number indicates more income inequality.

The latest issue of The Economist features a special report on global income inequality. It includes a similar global map that show the changes in the gini coefficient in the past 20 years. This map reveals that Brazil has made great strides in reducing income inequality - primarily by focusing on improving education and implementing targeted transfer programs for the poor.  Brazil's Bolsa Familia program started in the 1990's and gives monthly payments to poor families if their children go to school. Several other countries in Latin America have created similar programs and have also lowered their income inequality.

The countries which have seen the largest increase in their income inequality in the last twenty years are: the United States, Nigeria, and China.

The Economist (10-13-2012) For richer, for poorer Growing inequality is one of the biggest social, economic and political challenges of our time. But it is not inevitable, says Zanny Minton Beddoes

If you follow links in the above article, you can read the other articles in The Economist's special report.

Questions for Students:
1. Which fact most surprised you?
2. What policies would you suggest to address this problem in the U.S. and in South Africa?

1 comment:

  1. I just happen to be reading Stiglitz's book on inequality. He is not very optimistic that it will decrease in the US.