2020’s legacy: The rise of global economic inequality

Economic inequity has plagued mankind throughout human history. Everywhere you look, you can easily spot the shocking difference between the rich and the poor. With the world’s richest 1 percent having twice as much wealth as 6.9 million people, the economic inquiry continues to thrive. Furthermore, as the world shut down due to the coronavirus, the yawning gulf between rich and poor almost duplicated.

One in six children affected

The ILO Director-General Guy Ryder stated that the current crisis “is no longer only a global health crisis, it is also a major labor market and economic crisis that is having a huge impact on people”.

Though many organizations around the world were providing a substantial positive impact in reducing child poverty, the pandemic’s vicious clutches eradicate those efforts. The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, along with the World Bank reported back in October that 365 million children are living under the poverty line. Moreover, despite the lack of new data, facts are pointing towards the extreme increase of these numbers.

“These numbers alone should shock anyone”, said Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF Director of Programmes. “Governments urgently need a children’s recovery plan to prevent countless more children and their families from reaching levels of poverty unseen for many, many years,” he added.

In need of humanitarian assistance

Experts are predicting that a record of 235 million people will require humanitarian assistance in 2021. These figures are both a direct and indirect result of the pandemic. Thus, the virus single-handedly increased the number in need of aid by 40 percent. “The picture we are presenting is the bleakest and darkest perspective on humanitarian needs in the period ahead that we have ever set out”, stated the UN’s emergency relief chief, Mark Lowcock. “That is a reflection of the fact that the COVID pandemic has wreaked carnage across the whole of the most fragile and vulnerable countries on the planet.”

He also continues to paint a dire future awaiting the world in 2021, saying that “If we get through 2021 without major famines that will be a significant achievement”. He then added, “The red lights are flashing, and the alarm bells are ringing.”

The economic price of inequality

Though it’s within human nature to look after themselves and their own while somehow turning a blind eye towards others suffering, the price of inequality affects almost the entire society. Inequity hurts not only society but also its economy. Thus, despite the somehow vague relationship between inequality and economic growth, researchers are discovering a pattern between them. Apparently, countries with high and rising inequalities generally experience slower growth than those with lower inequality, according to Ostry, Berg, and Tsangaridesa and their 2014 report.
Moreover, inequity can play a direct role in generating forms of economic instability
and market volatility.

Climate change, inequity, and poverty

Just like the pandemic, climate change is another factor that is destroying lives while expanding the inequity gap and increasing poverty rates. Climate change is unleashing nature’s anger in the forms of earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and tornados on the rich and poor alike but only the rich are truly surviving. Thus, people living in poverty are disproportionately exposed to its impacts. Many of these people, such as farmers or fishers, depend highly on ecosystem-related income. Thus, as the world and its temperature change, so will their lives. Furthermore, People living under the poverty line are more vulnerable to infectious and respiratory diseases that climate change will aggravate.

Promoting equality and social justice in a changing world

Perhaps one of the most important lessons we should take from 2020 is the significance of uniting together in the face of a common enemy. The world is now stepping into an unprecedented era. One that should promote equality and social justice as it tries its best to eradicate ignorance on the topic. Moreover, the past mixed success in reducing inequalities within countries calls for new strategies. To reduce inequity, it is vital to promote equal access to opportunities. Such opportunities include universal access to quality education, as well as job offers.

On the other hand, tackling prejudice and discrimination is also vital in the fight against inequity. The promotion of disadvantaged groups participating in different aspects of economic, social, and political lives will help in transitioning their lives for the better. Thus, societies must stop discrimination based on ethnicity, race, gender, or other characteristics that should have no bearing on personal achievement or well-being.


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