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Competence Centre on Foresight

We foster a strategic, future-oriented and anticipatory culture in the EU policymaking process.


Diversifying inequalities

Absolute number of people living in extreme poverty has been declining. The gaps between the wealthiest and poorest of the population are widening.


Although global inequality between countries and the absolute number of people living in extreme poverty has been declining as poorer countries catch up with richer ones, the gaps between the wealthiest and poorest segments of the population are widening.

Addressing income disparities, gender inequalities, access to education, healthcare and technology, and their compounded effects will continue to represent the most important social, economic and political challenges for the foreseeable future.

Developments and Forecasts

The 2019 Social Progress Index reveals that while quality of life improves across the globe, there are also some troubling trends: declining personal rights, personal safety, as well as slow and uneven social progress. While poverty is generally measured by income, multidimensional poverty includes the various deprivations experienced by poor people – such as poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standards, disempowerment, poor quality of work, the threat of violence, and living in areas that are environmentally hazardous, among others.

Economic inequality

While some inequalities are declining, income inequality seems to be on the rise.

Gap among and within countries

Wealth concentration

Employment uncertainties

Corruption and access to justice

Digital divide

While the world becomes increasingly hyperconnected, the digital divide is the fastest growing inequality.

Access and generational gaps

Automation and robotisation

Digital oligarchy


The education gap is diminishing.

Literacy rate, access to education

Health and nutrition

There is enough food for everyone and health care is improving, but poor distribution, quality and access continue to accentuate existing social inequalities. 

Food security

Infant mortality

Health care and quality of life

Gender inequality

Despite significant progress, gender inequality persists. Over 50% of 10-year-olds live in countries with high levels of gender inequality. From all the sectors, politics remains the area where least progress has been made to date, followed by economic participation.

Women empowerment

Economic gap

Access to education

Maternal health

Violence against women

Climate change and environment

The poor and people in developing countries bear the greatest burden of climate change and environmental degradation.

Impact of climate change and environment on poverty

Energy poverty

More Developments and Forecasts

Potential Implications

Socio-economic aspects

Fiscal strategies for new forms of work

Basic Income Guarantee

Equal participation to democracy

More Potential Implications


Social Progress Components
Source: 2019 Social Progress Index


Inequality widening
Source: World Inequality Report 2018


Rising global income inequality is not inevitable in the future (© Source: (2017).)

More Indicators

Relevant EC Work

Policy papers and projects relevant to diversifying inequalities

Models relevant to diversifying inequalities used by the EC

TIM (Tools for Innovation Monitoring) is a tool developed by the EC Joint Research Centre to monitor and better understand the different facets of innovation and technological development.

Use TIM to explore R&I related to diversifying Inequalities


(© European Union, 2018)

The EMM News Brief, Europe Media Monitoring, is a fully automatic system that analyses both traditional and social media. It gathers and aggregates about 300,000 news articles per day from news portals worldwide in up to 70 languages. 

Use EMM NewsBrief to explore news related to diversifying Inequalities


(© EU)

More EC work

Other relevant resources

Selected resources relevant to diversifying inequalities

More resources on this megatrend

Disclaimer: the content presented in this Megatrends Hub does not represent the views of the JRC or those of the EC, nor an endorsement by them.

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