The poorest 40 per cent of the population should be able to grow their income faster than average.

While progress has been made towards lifting people out of poverty, things are far from perfect. In fact, average income inequality around the world increased by 11% in developing countries in the last 20 years. This means that 75% of the population of said countries are living today in a society that is more unequally distributed for them than it was two decades ago.

Rally against school integration in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1956 - Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Unabridged income inequality is harmful for a country’s long-term productivity and social cohesion, which shows in damaged “public and political spheres and individiduals’ sense of fulfillment and performance” (UN, 2015).  However, income inequality is only a consequence of a bigger issue: a deep inequality of opportunities.

This issue has been addressed in previous posts, such as this one on the feminization of poverty and this one Global Goal 5. The fact is that historically, different groups of people have been placed into a tiered system where some of them are considered worthy of acquiring certain benefits, tools and services others don’t have access to. This impedes the fulfillment of the individual’s potential, and has a marked influence on the surge of animosity between different groups of people. Systemic unequal treatment makes those who suffer it more vulnerable to adverse events, which is directly linked to poverty and mortality statistics, as well as other social issues.


Source: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Photo Credit: GlobalGoals.org

  • Progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40% of the population at a rate higher than the national average.
  • 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 quality.
  • 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.

Eliminating inequalities in opportunities opens a room for growth for all citizens, which results in economic growth and prosperity for the country they inhabit. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development proposes two general guidelines for fighting inequalities among people. These guidelines are cited below and are meant to be adapted to the reality of each country:

  • 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.
  • Reduce to less than 3% the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5%