The issue of income inequality has been much discussed since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007, but the latest Oxfam report indicates that more of the global economy than ever is in the hands of the wealthiest.
With the rich getting richer, the areas to explore in a research paper also increase, as the income gap grows to encompass more and more issues, including health and mortality.
Income inequality gap widens
The World Economic Forum will take place January 20 through 23 in Davos, Switzerland. In preparation for the upcoming event, a new Oxfam report was released detailing the ever-widening income gap around the world. In a January 18, 2016, post on MintPress News, “Sixty-Two People Have The Same Amount Of Wealth As Half The World,” contributor The Age shared details, including “wealth is becoming further concentrated, with the number of people owning the same amount as the bottom half of humanity falling from 388 to 62 in five years.”
The Oxfam report found that the rising income inequality can be traced back to the issue of tax avoidance as a result of tax havens around the world, as well as issues of privatization and deregulation, all of which have contributed to a greater concentration of wealth in fewer hands. Other contributing factors to income inequality include:
- the use of a minimum wage rather than a living wage
- the gender gap in pay
- the increase of taxes on labor and consumption rather than wealth and capital.
Any of these factors, and how they have increased wealth for the non-rich, are possible research paper topics.
Global economy correction
Tim Worstall argued in “We’ve Already Solved Oxfam’s Little Inequality Problem” for Forbes.com on January 18, 2016, that the issues of income inequality that the Oxfam report raises are in fact well on their way toward self-correction by the marketplace, with no additional public policy interference necessary.
Worstall noted that a shift in global demographics will soon result in a shrinking labor force, which will also cause an increase in pay. As he explained: “From now on the global labour force is going to be shrinking. And the above process thus goes into reverse: the capital share will fall and the labour one rise: profits do, after all, flow to the scarce resource.” A research paper could investigate the accuracy of Worstall’s assertions, as well as other possible holes in the “rich getting richer” argument.
Additional consequences of income inequality
Whether the Oxfam report is right or wrong, there are long-term consequences of income inequality in our global economy according to many experts. “Income Inequality Takes Eventual Toll” from the July 2012 issue of USA Today magazine stated just a few of these issues in terms of health and mortality.
The article quoted a study published in Social Science and Medicine, which found “that income inequality at any one point does not work instantaneously—it begins increasing mortality rates five years later, and its influence peaks after seven years, before fading after 12 years.” The impact of the rich getting richer actually appears to affect the health and well being of those with less money. A research paper could examine the causes of higher mortality rates among the poor, including reduced access to health care or the psychological impact of negative comparisons between the lifestyles of the rich and the non-wealthy.
How big of an issue do you think income inequality is for our global economy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.