World Social Report 2020: Inequality in a rapidly changing world
UN DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS
2020 :: 218 pages
The World Social Report 2020 examines the impact of four such megatrends on inequality: technological innovation, climate change, urbanization and international migration. Technological change can be an engine of economic growth, offering new possibilities in health care, education, communication and productivity. But it can also exacerbate wage inequality and displace workers. The accelerating winds of climate change are being unleashed around the world, but the poorest countries and groups are suffering most, especially those trying to eke out a living in rural areas. Urbanization offers unmatched opportunities, yet cities find abject poverty and opulent wealth in close proximity, making gaping and increasing levels of inequality all the more glaring. International migration allows millions of people to seek new opportunities and can help reduce global disparities, but only if it occurs under orderly and safe conditions. Whether these mega-trends are harnessed to encourage a more equitable and sustainable world, or allowed to exacerbate disparities and divisions, will largely determine the shape of our common future.
:: Inequality within countries is very high but it is not rising everywhere. Since 1990, income inequality has increased in most developed countries. Inequality declined in most Latin American countries from 1990 to the early 2010s but is increasing again in some of them.
:: Inequality trends differ across countries at even similar levels of development.
:: Income inequality among countries has declined in relative terms but is still higher than inequality within most countries. Absolute income differences between countries continue to grow.
:: The world is far from the goal of equal opportunity for all: circumstances beyond an individual’s control, such as gender, race, ethnicity, migrant status and, for children, the socioeconomic status of their parents, continue to affect one’s chances of succeeding in life.
:: Group-based inequalities are declining in some cases but still growing in many others. Unless progress accelerates, leaving no one behind will remain a still distant goal by 2030.
:: High or growing inequality not only harms people living in poverty and other disadvantaged groups. It affects the well-being of society at large.
:: Highly unequal societies grow more slowly than those with low inequality and are less successful at reducing poverty.
:: Without appropriate policies and institutions, inequalities in outcomes create or preserve unequal opportunities and perpetuate social divisions.
:: Rising inequality has created discontent, deepened political divides and can lead to violent conflict.