BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Global Health and Enduring Wealth Gap



The enduring wealth gap faced by the world today is a public health problem, and a social determinant of health. It is created by income inequality, defined as the unequal and unfair distribution of individual or household income across various contributors in an economy. Statistically, income inequality is described as a ratio of the percentage of an income to a percentage of population. Compared to previous years, the world seems to have become wealthier overall. This may be attributed to the fact that minimum wage increases, it may also be as a result of more people getting educated and therefore, earning more since education has been linked to increase in income.  However, this increase in the world’s wealth does not seem to narrow or close the enduring wealth gap between the rich and the poor. In fact, the gap between rich and poor people continues to widen, creating disparities in all areas of life, notably health.

Since the 80’s, income inequality has been increasing at an obvious rate. At that time, 30 to 35% of national income was going to the top 10% of earners while 90% of earners had the remaining percentage. More recently, the wealth gap has even become more obvious as the percentage of income going to the top 10% has increased to 50%, creating a huge disparity between high earners and low earners. According to Forbes, the 10 richest billionaires in the world own $505 billion in combined wealth, a sum greater than the total goods and services produced annually by most countries. A 2006 study published by the United Nations University’s World Institute for Development Economics Research found that the richest 1% of world are worth at least 39.9% of the world’s household wealth. This amount is a lot greater than the wealth of the world’s poorest 95% combined.

There are many consequences of income inequality and the resulting wealth gap. These consequences are consistent across a broad spectrum of both economic, health, political and social indicators. The impacts of high levels of income inequality exist across and within countries reflecting areas of economic growth, health, social well-being, and political stability, social inequalities. Some of these impacts include: decreased economic growth, increased health and social problems, political instability and social inequalities, especially among children. Needless to say, the poor are usually the ones affected by these consequences as they do not have the power or the position to help themselves. These poor individuals, being deprived may not sufficiently contribute to the economy, further hindering  economic growth and development.

Strengthening labor unions, increasing minimum wage and investing in education are few ways that may reduce income inequality. However, it’ll take years of commitment and consistence from governments of all nations to have a world where income inequality is absent and wealth gap is at the barest minimum.

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