Global Poverty GapAccording to Our World In Data, there is good news about the global poverty gap: it is falling. The global poverty gap index is defined as the “mean shortfall in income or consumption from the national poverty line.”

While many countries still face an extreme poverty gap, especially in sub-saharan Africa, this study shows that the gap is improving. Today, the global poverty gap is about half of what it was just ten years ago, and the total amount of resources needed to deplete that gap entirely is becoming smaller each year.

A large part of the poverty gap decrease is due to the “Chinese Effect.” The Chinese Effect refers to the great increase of wealth in China that is unparalleled to any other country. In 2014, China raised their GDP by nearly 49-fold, and took 800 million people out of poverty.

Our World in Data estimates that there is now 160 billion international dollars needed to eliminate the poverty gap for good by lifting people past the global poverty line of $1.90 a day. The United Nations is taking steps toward solving this issue, as their tenth goal in Sustainable Development Goal project is to “reduce inequality within and among countries.”

The targets for this Sustainable Development Goal include:

  • Achieve sustainable growth of income at the lowest 40 per cent of the population at a rate that is higher than the national average.
  • Empower and promote the inclusion of all in politics, the economy and society.
  • Increase equal opportunities and decrease the inequalities of outcomes, and adopt policies to achieve greater equality.
  • Higher regulations and enforcement on regulations in the global marketplace.
  • Create well-planned and well-managed migration policies to increase the mobility of people.
  • Give special treatment to developing countries, following World Trade Organization agreements.
  • Encourage flow of assistance to states that need it most.

If the U.N.’s objectives are met, and if countries send more aid to nations where the poverty gap is staggering, the gap may continue to decrease and, someday, become nonexistent.

Téa Franco

Photo: Flickr

Over the past few years, Chinese media has been portraying the image of an unwanted leftover woman. The term leftover woman, has been used in the media to persuade women to be less career-minded, ambitious and be more centered on matrimony. The prospect of an educated, successful women in her late 20s is made to appear more like a death sentence than a good thing.

There has been a recent backlash over the past few decades against women’s rights in China. Recent gender inequality is beginning to rear its ugly head again and perpetuating the idea that women are not focused on the traditional way, which is marriage and motherhood. Less than half of China’s women are employed and that rate continues to drop each year. The Gender Gap report stated that an average income for women is 67% of men’s income while the nation is ranked 50 out of 137 countries for equal wage. Female employment has gone down over 10% through the past 10 years, due to the gender based view of the unwanted, over-achieving women in China.

A woman facing the business marketplace in China endures discrimination based on her gender and measuring up to the beauty standards placed on women in the professional world. Some Chinese women are told from a young age not to pursue certain careers like those in the medical field, because that would make them seem undesirable to a man. The pressure increases as women finish school and grow into their mid-twenties to settle down and have a family. There is also the pressure to maintain a perfect figure instead of embracing the normalcy of aging. Women that do not fit these molds and instead gain higher education are blamed for the high numbers of unmarried men.

Leta Hong Fincher, author of “Leftover Women,” states that “the image of the left over women is everywhere and in the end it is insulting.” In her book, she explains that the Chinese government is blaming these women for the high number of single adult males. The fear is that those unmarried men will cause problems relating to the social stability in China. Moreover, problems like bride kidnapping and prostitution are increasing each year the marriage crisis continues.

The traditional view of men and women, that men are superior to women, has molded the Chinese culture today. The Chinese government passed the one child law in the 1980s and gender-based abortions have skyrocketed since 1995, when gender-confirming technology was introduced. The fact is that Chinese families prefer a son over a baby girl. This supports the overwhelming number of men under the age of thirty in China today.

China’s rapidly-changing economy is changing how women view their positions in society. Women want access to the same positions as men, and are doing so by obtaining higher degrees such as masters and PhDs. These degree programs require more time spent in school and women are not looking to marry until later in their twenties. The traditional mind-set of these women is fading and marriage is no longer the focal point. The market in China continues to be flooded with men, but the future of  highly-qualified women reaching the same opportunities is changing China’s structure and providing women with more rights.

– Rachel Cannon

Sources: The Telegraph, The Economist
Photo: Ministry of Harmony

Israel is but a pawn on the playing board of the massive Chinese economy. But it is a strong and able pawn.

On April 8, Israeli President Shimon Peres made the first trip to China by an Israeli President since 2013. He met with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, in order to improve economic and diplomatic ties between the countries and to bolster a mutual commitment to opposing the spread of nuclear and other non-conventional weapons throughout the Middle East. According to Peres, China has the ability to strengthen safety and stability in the region.

Just last year, in 2013, Xi met with both Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. China has made a point of urging a revival and reinvigoration of peace talks, giving Israel confidence in cooperation.

A member of the United Nations P5+1, Xi comforted Peres with a pledge from China to continue supporting international nuclear negotiations with Iran. He said China understands Israel’s security concerns with Iranian nuclear proliferation and that he wants to help prevent Iran from obtaining those weapons.

China’s stance on Iran, however, is a bit complicated. A customer of Iranian oil and thus a backer of Tehran, China has resisted imposing heavier sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Consequently, in an effort to achieve diplomacy in all corners of the ideological world, China hopes to both maintain ties with Iran and to improve relations with Israel simultaneously. Israel shares these hopes.

If China manages to retain its close ties with Iran, Israel can potentially utilize those connections and push its own initiatives through the Chinese hand. Peres, for example, claims that China can significantly help in the Middle East, particularly in light of the present tumultuous circumstances of the Arab Spring aftermath. China has brought millions of people out of poverty without relying on foreign aid and assistance and, as such, Israel believes China can bring its expertise to the region.

Though circumstances may not be the same in reverse, China is Israel’s third largest trading partner and Israel can use China’s desire for diplomatic ties in the region to its advantage. In order to solidify ties, Israel is even considering setting up a model farm in southern China. That way, China can study and make use of Israel’s agricultural technology while asserting its power in the Middle East.

– Jaclyn Stutz

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, The Diplomat, The Times of Israel

China lifts the ban on video game consoles by allowing its production in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

As the hub of financial reform and experimentation, the Shanghai Free Trade Zone is envisioned to be a bastion of foreign business interaction in the otherwise heavily government-controlled Chinese economy.

In addition, the Free Trade Zone is meant to allow the market to set interest rates (as opposed to government overseers) and enable the conversion of the Chinese Yuan to foreign currency.

Gaming consoles in China have been banned since 2000. Previously, consoles were only available through underground markets, including restricted game titles.

For this reason, gaming heavily centered around the PC. The $13 billion industry dominates two-thirds of the market in China.

With this new overture, consoles from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are allowed production in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone to be distributed nationwide, an untapped market in the world’s most populous nation.

From its November release to the end of 2013, Sony’s Playstation 4 sold 4.2 million consoles. Microsoft’s Xbox One sold 1.2 million consoles. During their initial day of release, both the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One, respectively, sold one million units.

Manufacturing companies have yet to comment to comment on the new reform policy. The consoles constructed within the zone must, however, undergo governmental inspection before possible nationwide distribution.

Among the other initiatives in the Free Trade Zone include freer Internet at-home access. Internet availability stems from foreign ownership of telecom services, including call centers.

This recent reform comes alongside foreign companies, including products made in America and plans on capitalizing China’s burgeoning market. Such products include air purifiers for China’s heavily polluted urban centers, California wines and toys such as K’Nex.

Whether economic reform is to lead to further reform, the global reach of the gaming community will reach expansive proportions. This possibility will largely be in part due to the online gaming community, which will be a step forward, to say the least.

– Miles Abadilla

Sources: BBC Business, BBC Technology, CNN Money, CNN, CNN Technology, The Wall Street Journal
Photo: Gizmodo