Income inequality is immoral

Redistribute money and power

Despite advances in many areas such as the fight against hunger and poverty, social inequality is not decreasing but increasing worldwide. This harms society as a whole, because inequality undermines social cohesion and trust in politics and democracy, slows economic growth and prevents opportunities for advancement. Poor and rich countries are equally affected.

Oxfam estimates that 70 percent of the world's population live in countries where the gap between rich and poor has widened over the past 30 years. Developing and emerging countries as well as industrialized countries are affected. Growing income and wealth inequality is one of the greatest global economic, social and political problems in the eyes of international NGOs. The World Economic Forum also describes “serious income disparities” as one of the key risks of the coming decade.

Inequality affects many areas of life, such as life expectancy, educational opportunities and health. Oxfam has also found it increases other existing inequalities, such as gender, ethnicity or religion. Crime and violent conflict are also increasing in countries with widening income gaps. Contrary to previous assumptions, growing inequality is detrimental to economic growth and diminishes its poverty-reducing effect.

The global community has recognized the problem and made combating inequality one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015. To achieve it, according to Oxfam, money and power will have to be radically redistributed. "Governments can close the gap between rich and poor by breaking away from pure market beliefs and opposing the interests of powerful elites," states the updated summary of the Oxfam report, "Even it up - time to end extreme inequality," published in February “From 2014. Only in this way could fair opportunities arise for all.

In a ten-point program, Oxfam calls for the establishment of a more transparent economic and political system that safeguards the rights of all citizens. These include regulation and fair taxation, worldwide statutory minimum wages of living wages, social transfers and free education and health care.

The NGO sees international tax loopholes as a major problem. Developing countries lose at least 100 billion dollars in tax revenue every year through tax avoidance by multinational corporations (see also article in E + Z / D + C e-Paper 2017/03). For example, Bangladesh is brought in at $ 310 million a year - enough to finance a fifth of basic education spending.

It is also particularly important to create equal opportunities for women, because gender and income inequality are closely related. Studies have shown that in highly unequal societies, fewer girls graduate from school, fewer women are represented in parliaments and the gender pay gap is greater. For example, the poorest rural women in Ethiopia would have six times less chance of ever going to school than the richest men in the city.

Among other things, Oxfam calls for equal rights for men and women, such as inheritance and land rights, a fairer division of tasks between the sexes and financial compensation for unpaid care and support services.

Surveys show that people around the world dislike severe inequality as unfair, immoral and bad for society. This can currently be seen in discussions about exorbitant manager salaries in Germany and Europe and corrupt, enriching “elites” worldwide. Governments would only have to listen to their citizens, so Oxfam, and intervene more controlling and regulating.


Oxfam, 2014: Even it up - time to end extreme inequality.