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Economic inequality

(Redirected from Social inequality)

Economic inequality refers to disparities in the distribution of economic assets and income. It can refer to inequality among individuals, among groups, or among entire societies.


Global inequality among individuals

The gap between the world's rich and poor is as follows: The richest 1% of people (with average income of US$24,000) earn more than the poorest 60% of households combined. The three richest people possess more financial assets than the poorest 10% of the world's population, combined. Economic inequality is generally considered to be exponential as one traverses the strata of national and world societies from top-to-bottom.

Inequality among nations

Economic inequality has always existed; its very nature, cause and importance is open to broad debate. State-mandated economic polices (whether capitalism, socialism, communism or some other), wars, past and present, differing ability to create wealth among individuals are among the reasons. (see IQ and the Wealth of Nations).

Rather than catching up to the wealthier nations, many poor countries are falling further behind. Economists describe world inequality (among nations) as the "factor of 32" problem, since the ratio between developed world countries' per capita GDP and poor nations' GDP's is estimated to be about 32.

Economics of economic inequality


Main article: Income inequality metrics

Numerical indexes measuring economic equality either look at absolute inequality - essentially, quantifying poverty - and relative inequality, which compares the well-being and numbers of the rich with those of the poor.

Economic inequality and gender

See also Gender gap.


Proposed causes of income inequality between men and women:

  • Sexism
  • Undervaluing the work of women, including housework
  • Differing interests between the sexes
  • Cultural influence of traditional gender roles
  • Historical inertia
  • Negotiation: Often inequality is emergent. For example, the assumption is that most firms will act to maximize profits, which means paying each worker the lowest salary or wage he or she will accept. The result is that compensation matters are intentionally kept obscure by firms; some formally disallow discussion of salaries. Matters of salaries and raises are determined in complex negotiation processes. This results in some workers being able to negotiate better salaries than others.

Economic inequality and race

See also

External link

Last updated: 10-14-2005 13:29:30
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