Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, December 31, 2021

The Gobal Syndemic, Part Four: Inequality

Climate change and resource depletion affect everyone, but the magnitude of the impacts depends very much on people's wealth and social status, both within and among societies. Furthermore, inequality makes solutions to the global challenges far more difficult. The graph below is a few years old but the basic numbers haven't changed. Ten percent of the people consume almost 60% of the resources.



Now let's look just within the U.S.




Looking at this over time, after a period of relative equality following WWII we're back to the situation in the Gilded Age.




Is it any wonder there is growing discontent, even anger, in the U.S. population?




"Productivity" means output per hour of labor. The chart below shows where gains in productivity are going -- to capital owners, not to workers. Until 1972, this was not the case: workers were pocketing the gains. Then that stopped. BTW in case you're interested Richard Nixon was president.



The challenge both nationally and globally is to raise the living standards of the people at the bottom without exacerbating climate change and resource depletion. You know what can help? Gender equity.




When women can get an education, they have fewer babies. Allowing families to plan the number and timing of their children reduces infant mortality rates and improves the health of both women, and their families. The very conditions that will help the population stabilize are also good for society; they help families’ live longer, healthier lives, raise healthier children, and have more opportunity to contribute to their nations and families’ prosperity. 


But, right now, those poor and vulnerable people are being displaced -- forced to migrate -- at rates unprecedented in modern times. An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also an estimated 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.




One reason for this is civil conflict.




To be continued.