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Potential Implications of Diversifying Inequalities

  • Evidence shows that, beyond a certain threshold, inequality harms growth and poverty reduction, the quality of relations in the public and political spheres and individuals’ sense of fulfilment and self-worth. | Related Megatrends: WorkEducation
  • Rising economic inequality as a major threat to social stability; the rise of social media has made it easier for people to organise protests, accelerate their speed and scale, shape the narrative of events and put pressure on the international community to act.
    | Related Megatrends TechnologyGovernanceSecurity
  • Income inequality cannot be effectively tackled unless the underlying inequality of opportunities is addressed.
    | Related Megatrends: WorkEducation
  • Automation and robotization are considerably increasing productivity. However, the related increased profit is not reflected in the income of the workers and even less so in the contributions that corporations make to society. Therefore, policies could align productivity increase with income, tax and social contributions of business, to address unemployment and re-skilling.
  • coherent strategy and policy approach could avoid potential disruptive structural changes and to assure that digitalization benefits the majority of the population, encourages further innovation and development, and that it helps address the global challenges.
  • With increasing demographic imbalances, retirement and fiscal policies could be reconsidered, as well as best way to use the growing wisdom and experience resources of the aging population.
    | Related Megatrends: Demography

  • Fiscal strategies, social protection and labour market policies should consider support the increasing independent, solo-preneurship, and flexible work systems to address the root-causes of the emerging work crises, rather than the symptoms.
  • While self-employment and other forms of work outside of traditional employment are expanding, social safety net regimes for these workers have yet to be established.
  • More than 50% of independent workers in Europe are not covered by unemployment benefits.   
  • Shared economy platforms (e.g. Uber, AirBnB, Helping, Upwork, etc.) proliferate outside the existing labour laws and regulations; therefore, new employment and self-regulation system frameworks should be considered. Taxation and fiscal policies should be adapted to the expanding shared economy, digitalization and globalization.
  • Discussions about basic income guarantee for every (adult) person of the society are increasing, in the wake of automation, advanced robotics and AI.
    • A Basic (or Universal) Income Guarantee (BIG/UIG or Universal Basic Income - UBI) would unleash creativity and encourage new forms of work that could reduce unemployment, underemployment, and work-related health risks.
    • The cost of a UBI for adults could ranges from 9.6% of GDP in low-income countries to 3.5% of GDP in upper-middle-income countries, found a 2019 World Bank study
    • Previous pilot programs showed clear benefits and more pilots are being currently conducted and planned. In New Zealand, a BI is being actively debated and an NGO group is promoting the idea and keeps track of developments around the world.
    • A 2016 survey found that 68% of people across all 28 EU member states would "definitely or probably" support some form of universal basic income. The results of a basic income experiment carried out in Finland are not relevant after the first year of the experiment.

| Related Megatrends: InequalitiesHealth

Sustainable Development Goals

While all UN Sustainable Development Goals aim reducing different forms of inequalities, Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries specifically requests countries that:

  • By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40% of the population at a rate higher than the national average.
  • By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.
  • Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard.
  • Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality.
  • Improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions and strengthen the implementation of such regulations.
  • Ensure enhanced representation and voice for developing countries in decision-making in global international economic and financial institutions in order to deliver more effective, credible, accountable and legitimate institutions.
  • Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.
  • Implement the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, in accordance with World Trade Organization agreements.
  • Encourage official development assistance and financial flows, including foreign direct investment, to States where the need is greatest, in particular least developed countries, African countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their national plans and programmes.
  • By 2030, reduce to less than 3% the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5%.

Other SDGs that are specifically targeting reducing different inequality include:

Goal 1: end poverty in all its forms everywhere requests that by 2030, extreme poverty (people living on less than $1.25/day (revised to $1.90/day) be eradicated everywhere and poverty be at least halved, social protection systems be implemented for all, equal rights to resources and services be assured to all people, and resilience to natural disasters be improved (mainly for the most vulnerable).

Goal 3: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages targets achieving universal health coverage by 2030.

Goal 4: ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Goal 5: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Goal 6: ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Goal 7: ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Goal 8: promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

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