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Lottery of birth
Lottery of birth

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1 Is global inequality rising or falling?

Listen to the audio below which opens with a few lines from the former US President Barack Obama. Here he reflects an understanding, held by many, that there is real progress around the world, and that this is, in fact, a good time to be born.

The discussion that then follows involves two academics discussing whether global inequality is rising.

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So, the answer to the question: Is global inequality rising? depends on how you look at it. The first thing to remember is that huge global income inequality still exists (one of the contributors mentions that the eight richest people in the world are wealthier than 40% of the world’s population combined), but it has decreased. This is largely because of the remarkable rise of income levels in China in the last 30 years or so.

The second key point to consider is that income inequality should perhaps not be the thing that is focused on; infant mortality and maternal mortality have reduced and life expectancy has steadily improved.

Now listen to the rest of the clip in which the discussion moves on first to consider the idea of China as an ‘outlier’ and the pros and cons of excluding the country from statistics, and then to the definition of ‘absolute poverty’ and whether this also distorts the global picture.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: thinking_allowed_global_inequality_part2.mp3
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As an issue of such importance to everyone, poverty and inequality are, as here, continually debated and challenged.

You will now look at the successors to the Millenium Development Goals next.