Wealth gap widens as pandemic deepens economic inequality – World Economic Forum
- COVID-19 has widened wealth gaps across the globe.
- The richest 10% of the world population now owns 76% of all wealth.
- Urgent action is needed to support people in poverty and narrow the economic divide.
- Stepping up vaccinations and mobilizing aid and debt relief will help developing countries.
The world is facing a surge in economic inequality accelerated by COVID-19 and exacerbated by the impact of the war in Ukraine. Governments need to initiate urgent change to tackle extreme poverty and narrow the gap between rich and poor, laying the foundations for a more equal and sustainable future.
The numbers reveal the extent of the problem. The richest 10% of the world population owns 76% of the wealth, while the poorest half owns just a sliver, according to the World Inequality Lab. Global inequalities are now as extreme as they were at the peak of Western imperialism in the early 20th century, the Paris-based research group says in a report.
The richest 10% of the world population owns 76% of the wealth.
Image: World Inequality Report 2022
The pandemic wiped out years of progress in reducing poverty and caused inequality to spike. The world’s 10 richest men have doubled their fortunes since the global health emergency began, while the incomes of 99% of humanity are worse off as a result, according to Oxfam. More than 160 million people have also been pushed into poverty, the UK charity estimates.
Now Russia’s war in Ukraine is deepening the gloom. Beyond the battlefield, the conflict has upended commodity markets and global supply chains, driving up prices for energy and food.
For developing countries that are highly dependent on fuel and food from Russia and Ukraine, the impact of the war will be devastating, according to International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. “To put it very simply, a war in Ukraine means hunger in Africa,” she told Foreign Policy magazine.
COVID-19 has caused more inequality
Even before the war, the recovery of emerging-market and developing economies from the pandemic recession was weak, sending inequality between rich and poor countries back to levels last seen a decade earlier, the World Bank says.
COVID-19 has reversed progress on eradicating poverty.
Image: World Bank Global Economic Prospects report
Inequality within countries remains particularly high in developing regions, which are home to about two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor, according to the bank’s Global Economic Prospects report.
The COVID-19 pandemic and recent social and political unrest have created a profound sense of urgency …….