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Competence Centre on Foresight

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

Page | Last updated: 26 Mar 2020

Gap among and within countries

Income inequality among countries has been decreasing, while that within countries is increasing...

  • Income inequality among countries has been decreasing, while that within countries is increasing.
  • Inequalities related to socio-economic background have largely remained persistent over time in Europe.
  • By 2030, the middle class is expected to grow by 150% (to 2 billion people) in the BRIC countries and by 116% (to 730 million people) in the N-11 countries.
    | Related Megatrends: GeopowerConsumerism
  • While inequality in education and health is in decline, income inequality is on the rise; 70% of the world’s population lives in countries where disparities between the wealthiest and poorest have grown over the last 30 years.
  • Extreme poverty rate has declined from 36% in 1990 to an estimated 8.6% in 2018. Nevertheless, given the recent slower rates of decline, the target of less than 3% of the world living in extreme poverty by 2030 might not be achieved. New projections indicate that in 2030, some 480 million people will still be living in extreme poverty (44 million more than the previous estimate); 82 % of them -- almost 395 million people -- will be in Africa. 
  • The Global Slavery Index estimates that 45.8 million people were subject to some form of modern slavery in 2016, in the 167 countries assessed. Some 58% of these are living in 5 countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan.
    | Related Megatrends: Geopower
  • The gap between advanced and developing economies is expected to keep diminishing, with the emerging market and developing countries continuing to grow considerably faster than the developed ones, given their increasing labor force and expanding markets potential, versus the advanced economies, which are mostly replacement markets. 
  • The share of world GDP (PPP) of G7 countries has been decreasing from over 50% in 1990, to some 33% in 2014 and expected to further decrease to 29% in 2020, while that of emerging markets and developing economies has been increasing from 36% in 1990 to 57% in 2014 and pass 60% in 2020. | Related Megatrends: Geopower
  • The PwC forecasts that by 2050, the world's three biggest economic powers (PPP) will be China, India, and the U.S., each of them with a GDP greater than the next three largest economies (Indonesia, Brazil, and Mexico) combined. | Related Megatrends: Geopower
  • The World Bank estimates that crowdfunding investment in the developing world might be up to $96 billion by 2025, of which $50 billion in China. | Related Megatrends: GeopowerWork;
  • By 2025, 66% of world's economic growth (absolute GDP) is expected to be driven by the world’s richest 600 cities. Unless better urban policies, over the next 20 years, the number of city dwellers might reach 5 billion (60% of the world’s population), the majority in the developing world.
    | Related Megatrends: Urbanisation
  • International Labour Organization estimates that the rate of workers living in extreme poverty conditions will continue to decrease to some 7% by 2020. However, if current trends continue, it is expected that there will be further progress in the years to come, with the number of working poor decreasing by further 55 milion by 2023. Related Megatrends: Work
  • In 2023, the number of workers in extreme and moderate poverty from lower middle-income countries is expected to decrease by 12.5 compared to the situation in 2018 (432 million). 
  • Poverty and social exclusion have been decreasing since 2012. In 2017, they reached levels lower than before the financial crisis. However, in 2017 still 113 million people, or 20% of the EU population, were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The EU target to decrease this number to 96 million by 2020 will require a considerable effort.
  • In the framework of the 17 SDGs to end all forms of poverty everywhere, the target is to reduce world's extreme poverty to below 9% by 2020 and no more than 3% by 2030. Going beyond reducing poverty, the SDGs require countries to adopt fiscal, wage, and social protection policies to reduce inequality and have the society at large benefit of increasing prosperity. | Related Megatrends: Geopower; Work
  • ​Unless economy patterns change to address the growing inequality gap, some 500 million people will still be living on less than $1.90 a day in 2030, the SDG of eliminating extreme poverty being missed. | Related Megatrends:  SecurityHealthGovernance; Work
  • The SDG Index and Dashboards Report 2019 shows that most inequality-related goals are facing serious challenges. The poorer countries are closer to the bottom of the rankings, since they lack adequate infrastructure and the mechanisms needed for progress on the SDGs. Also, high-income countries tend to generate negative SDG spillover effects for poorer developing countries (countries with larger spillover: Switzerland, Singapore, Luxemburg, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, USA, Belgium, UK).

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