Global Wealth Inequality – What you never knew you never knew


People are talking a lot about inequality these days… about the fact that the richest 1% have so much more than everybody else. But most of the focus seems to be on the United States and it strikes me that the same story needs to be told about global inequality, too. So I did some research, and this is what I found from reliable sources like the UN. It turns out, that while the US is totally out of whack, things are actually way worse for the planet as a whole. Let's start with this graph a perfectly even distribution of wealth among all living people, with everyone divided into five equal groups. Now, let's show how much each group actually has Shocking, right? 80% percent of the world's people barely have any wealth, it's hard to even see them on the chart.

Meanwhile, the richest 2%, they have more wealth than half of the rest of the world. Let's look at this chart another way. Let's take the whole world's population all 7 billion of us and reduce it to just a representative 100 individuals. Here they are, poorest people on the left, richest people on the right. Now let's show how the world's total wealth roughly 223 trillion dollars is distributed. The vast majority have practically nothing Nothing with which to educate their children, nothing with which to pay for basic medicines. While the richest 1%… they've accumulated 43% of our world's wealth. The bottom 80%, meanwhile – that's 8 out of every 10 people – have just 6% between them. But even this doesn't show how extreme things have become. The richest 300 people on Earth have the same wealth as the poorest 3 billion So the number of people it takes to fill a mid-size commercial aircraft have more wealth than the populations of India, China, the US, and Brazil combined We can also see this inequality geographically, with a huge and growing gap between a few rich places versus the majority of the world.

For most of history, things were much more equal. 200 years ago, rich countries were only 3 times richer than poor countries. By the end of colonialism in the 1960s, they were 35 times richer. Today, they're about 80 times richer. Rich countries try to compensate for this by giving aid to poor countries – about 130 billion dollars each year. That's a lot of money. So then why does the wealth gap keep getting bigger? One reason I found is that large corporations are taking more than 900 billion dollars out of poor countries each year through a form of tax avoidance called trade mispricing. On top of this, each year poor countries are paying about 600 billion dollars in debt service to rich countries, on loans that have already been paid off many times over. And then there's the money that poor countries lose from trade rules imposed by rich countries to get access to more resources and cheaper labor.

Economists from the University of Massachusetts calculate that this costs poor countries about 500 billion dollars a year. All together, that's more than 2 trillion dollars that flows from some of the poorest parts of the world to the richest, every year. Rich governments like to say they're helping poor countries develop, but who's developing who here? This makes me think that there's something wrong with the basic rules of the global economy. It can't be right that the wealth of our planet is becoming so concentrated in the hands of such a tiny number of people. The only reasonable response, it seems to me, and our only hope, is to change the rules..