ISSUE: Poverty

Each student in my ESL class had to lead a 30 minute discussion based on a topic of their choice. The gentleman who is on leave from Guatemala’s central bank presented stats on poverty that he found at www.globalissues.org.

Here are some choice bits of info (emphasis mine):

  • 20% of the world’s population consume 86% of the world’s goods while 80% of humanity gets just the remainder 14%.
  • “The combined wealth of the world’s 200 richest people hit $1 trillion in 1999; the combined incomes of the 582 million people living in the 43 least developed countries is $146 billion.” source 16
  • The richest 50 million people in Europe and North America have the same income as 2.7 billion poor people. “The slice of the cake taken by 1% is the same size as that handed to the poorest 57%.” source 22
  • In the UK the bottom 50% of the population now owns only 1% of the wealth: in 1976 they owned 12%.
  • Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day. source 1
  • The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined. source 2
  • Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen. source 4
  • Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
  • More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day.
  • The world’s 497 billionaires in 2001 registered a combined wealth of $1.54 trillion, well over the combined gross national products of all the nations of sub-Saharan Africa ($929.3 billion) or those of the oil-rich regions of the Middle East and North Africa ($1.34 trillion). It is also greater than the combined incomes of the poorest half of humanity. source 23
  • In 1960, the 20% of the world’s people in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20% — in 1997, 74 times as much. source 10

Consider the global priorities in spending in 1998:

Global Priority $U.S. Billions
Cosmetics in the United States 8
Ice cream in Europe 11
Perfumes in Europe and the United States 12
Pet foods in Europe and the United States 17
Business entertainment in Japan 35
Cigarettes in Europe 50
Alcoholic drinks in Europe 105
Narcotics drugs in the world 400
Military spending in the world 780

And compare that to what was estimated as additional costs to achieve universal access to basic social services in all developing countries:

Global Priority $U.S. Billions
Basic education for all 6
Water and sanitation for all 9
Reproductive health for all women 12
Basic health and nutrition 13

source 25

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Posted in economy, poverty
2 comments on “ISSUE: Poverty
  1. Angela says:

    the global priorities are disturbing. seriously disturbing. beyond that i don’t have any words to describe how i feel the imbalance.

  2. PrairieGirl says:

    “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”~jesus~it’s too big, reading these statistics…much TOO big. so i guess i just try to be less of the problem until i can be more of a solution. and all i can do is strive to be more of the solution.it’s just so overwhelming.namaste.dana

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