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Focusing exclusively on economic growth and income generation as a development strategy is perilous as it leads to the accumulation of wealth by a few and deepens the poverty of many".
(From DESA News, vol 19, No5, Sept-Oct 2005)

Report on the World Social Situation, 2005:
The Inequality Predicament
Explanatory Notes
Executive Summary

I. The case for focusing on inequality
  • Linkages between poverty eradication and inequality
  • Inequality and the economic dimension of poverty
  • Inequality and the socio-political dimensions of poverty
  • Structural reform, the public sector and inequality
  • Universal access to education, health care and social protection
  • Patterns of intervention
  • Conclusion
  • Figure I.1. Policy framework: the three main pillars of social development centred on equity and equality
  • Figure I.2. Relationship between life expectancy at birth and the level of public and private health spending, 2002
II. A spotlight on inequality: the informal economy
  • A brief overview of the informal economy
  • The attraction of the informal economy
  • Reasons for the growth of the informal economy
  • Linkages between the formal and informal economies
  • Conclusion
  • Table II.1. Size and growth of the informal sector in selected countries, by sex
III. Trends and patterns of inequality
  • Economic aspects of inequality
  • Income inequality between countries
  • Income inequality within countries
  • Poverty
  • Unemployment
  • Non-economic aspects of inequality
  • Health
  • Life expectancy
  • Maternal and child health
  • HIV/AIDS and other deseases
  • Hunger and malnutrition
  • Education
  • Conclusion
  • Figure III.1. Evolution of income inequality among countries
  • Figure III.2. Per capita gross domestic product in the poorest and richest countries, 1960-1962 and 2000-2002
  • Figure III.3. Inequalities in life expectancy between major world regions: deviations of regional life expectancy at birth from that of Australia/New Zealand, (1990-1995 and 2000-2005)
  • Figure III.4. Distribution of all countries according to how far their life expectancy falls below that of Japan, 1990 and 2000
  • Table III.1. Regional per capita income as a share of high-income OECD countries’ average per capita income
  • Table III.2. Distribution of countries according to trends in Gini coefficients for income distribution between the 1950s and the 1990s
  • Table III.3. Poverty rates for the world, major regions, and China and India
  • Table III.4. Unemployment rates, labour force growth rates and GDP growth rates for the world and major regions
  • Table III.5. Levels of under-five mortality for selected countries and between-country inequality indices
  • Table III.6. Under-five mortality for countries with the highest and lowest rates, 1995, 2000 and 2002
  • Table III.7. Immunization coverage among children aged 12-23 months, by country and selected background characteristics
  • Table III.8. Differentials within and between selected countries in access to skilled medical care at delivery for children born three years before the survey
  • Table III.9. Adults and children affected by HIV/AIDS: the world and major regions, 2004
  • Table III.10. Women living with HIV: the world and major regions, 2004
  • Table III.11. Percentages of total, urban and rural household populations with no education, by sex
  • Table III.12. Inequalities in primary school enrolment: the world and major regions, 1998 and 2001
  • TableIII.13. Inequalities in secondary school enrolment: the world and major regions, 1998 and 2001
IV. Inequalities and social integration
  • Intergenerational dimensions of inequality
  • Consumption, inequality and social integration
  • Violence and inequality
  • Violent crime
  • Armed conflict
  • Youth demographics
  • Rape and child soldiers
  • Domestic violence and slavery
  • Fostering democracy and social integration
  • Conclusion
V. The changing context of development and inequality.
  • Globalization: asymmetries and the loss of policy space
  • The impact of liberalization and stabilization policies on inequality
  • Financial liberalization
  • Trade liberalization
  • Financing the social agenda
  • Official development assistance
  • Innovative sources of financing
  • Migrant remittances
  • Domestic financing
  • The peace dividend
  • The role of the State and civil society
  • Conclusion
  • Figure V.1. Aid from all Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors as a percentage of gross domestic product: the long-term trend to 2004
  • Figure V.2. Aid from Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors as a proportion of gross domestic product
  • Figure V.3. Social sector spending among country groupings classified by income
  • Figure V.4. Defence and social sector spending in countries with the highest defence expenditures
  • Figure V.5. Defence and social spending in countries with the highest social sector expenditures
VI. The way forward: policies to reduce inequality
  • Redressing global asymmetries
  • Intensifying integrated strategies and policies for poverty eradication
  • Guaranteeing employment opportunities for all
  • Fostering social integration and cohesion
From the United Nations  Department on Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development

Extract from the Report on the World Social Situation, 2003:
Social Vulnerability: Sources and Challenges

Extract from the Report on the World Social Situation, 2001
Social and human rights questions: social development

Report on the World Social Situation, 1997:

The current socio-economic situation