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Even Inequality is Unequal

Even Inequality is Unequal

Inequality. It’s on everyone’s mind these days, right? Well, an important new report on the subject shows us that the extent and implications of income disparity differ widely from one part of the world to another. That is to say, even inequality is unequal these days.


Three snapshots and three questions:

The United States is more unequal than Europe: In 1980, the top 1% of earners controlled just 10% of income on both sides of the Atlantic. Since then that share has ballooned to 20% in the US, while inching (ok, centimetering) up to just 12% in Europe.

Key question: Europe’s more progressive taxes and social safety nets dampen inequality. But does that safety net blunt the appeal of populist nationalism or does it intensify nationalists’ questions about who gets to take advantage of those benefits?

India is more unequal than China: The top 10% in India take home 55% of the country’s income. In China, the same group captures a somewhat more modest 41%. Why the difference? Rapid growth and urbanization in China have lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty since 1980, when the average Chinese and Indian had the same income. Today, nearly two-thirds of China lives in cities — two-thirds of Indians still live in the countryside.

Key question: China’s made a strong case for authoritarian development — pulling people out of poverty faster than democratic India. But can China’s authoritarian model continue to satisfy its people at higher and higher levels of income? And in the long run, does India’s democracy help or hinder sustainable growth?

Russia and the Middle East — The worst of both worlds: The average adult’s income hasn’t increased much since 1980 in Russia and the Middle East, while inequality has skyrocketed. Here’s an eye-popper: In Russia, the top 1% of earners have captured 69% of the country’s income growth since 1980.

Key question: For most petrostates, diversifying the economy means sacking entrenched elites and cronies. Lower oil prices may have increased the pressure on these governments to reform, but for the time being most of the focus is on balancing budgets rather than serious moves to diversify the economy (or the political sphere, for that matter.)

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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They call it Einstein. It's the multibillion-dollar digital defense system the US has used to catch outside hackers and attackers since 2003. But it was no match for what's looking like one of the biggest cyber breaches in US history. Ian Bremmer breaks it down.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Cyber attack: an act of espionage or war?

Since Martin Luther King Jr delivered his iconic "I have a dream" speech in August 1963, the number of Black Americans elected to the United States Congress has dramatically increased. Still, it wasn't until 2019, more than half a century later, that the share of Black members serving in the House of Representatives reflected the percentage of Black Americans in the broader population —12 percent. To date, only six states have sent a Black representative to serve in the US Senate (recent runoff elections will make Georgia the seventh state), and many states have never elected a Black representative to either house of Congress. Here's a look at Black representation in every US Congress since 1963.

More than 32 million COVID shots have now been administered globally, raising hopes that the light at the end of the tunnel is now in sight.

The US has vaccinated 3 percent of its total population, while the UK is nearing a solid 5 percent inoculation rate. In Israel, which has been hailed as a vaccine success story, almost 24 percent of people have already received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.

But while many countries are able to glimpse the outlines of a post-COVID world, there is a huge population of people who are being left out entirely. Refugees, as well as displaced, undocumented, and stateless people around the world remain ineligible for inoculations and vulnerable to the coronavirus.

We take a look at three case studies where powerless populations are being left in the lurch.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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