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How many people are starving around the world?In the U.S., it is not uncommon to hear the all-too-familiar phrase about “the starving children in Africa” who would “love to have that food you are wasting!” Seemingly daily reminders of how many people are starving around the world permeate Western society, whether through billboards, commercials, requests to donate to X or Y charity at the grocery checkout or homeless people begging at stoplights.

Despite all these reminders, the U.S. ranks lower than the average developed country in the Commitment to Development Index. Designed by the Center for Global Development (CDG), the Commitment to Development Index measures developed countries’ contributions to providing necessary aid in seven fields: aid, finance, technology, environment, trade, security and migration. Out of the 27 countries measured, the U.S. ranks twenty-third overall.

In the meantime, approximately 793 million people are starving around the world, according to the U.N. That makes up about 11 percent of the population. Of the 793 million, more than 100 million suffer from severe malnutrition and risk starving to death. Of the 793 million, 780 million, or 98 percent, inhabit developing countries. One million children under the age of five die from malnourishment each year, comprising 45 percent of all child deaths up to age five.

A person living comfortably in a developed country may find it difficult to address issues like global poverty or think about how many people are starving around the world. Though not necessarily intentional, this lack of awareness leads to inaction. When local political figures do not hear anything from the people they represent on certain issues, they focus on addressing other topics about which people seem to care more. As a result, bills regarding hunger do not get passed, people do not volunteer their energy and nothing gets done about global poverty.

Considering how many people are starving around the world today, people in developed countries must take action, even just by calling or emailing their political representatives about addressing global poverty. Though it seems like an insurmountable task, enough mobilization beginning at the individual level can help to eradicate poverty once and for all.

– Francesca Colella

Photo: Flickr

Hunger is a broad topic that touches on various aspects encompassing more than the physical lack of energy. According to Bread for the World, a Christian non-profit organization that aims to end hunger abroad and nationally, chronic hunger exists due to the lack of access and availability of resources to obtain it. In acknowledging this, there is no question that this leads to food insecurity and it is unspeakable that more than 800 million people in the world are suffering from chronic hunger. Two studies done focused specifically on the prevalence of child hunger in Greenland, which has brought to light the problem of hunger in the world’s largest island.

A national report on the food policy of Greenland was published by the Greenland Home Rule Government in 2004. This brought awareness to the prevalence of food insecurity that existed among Greenlandic children. From this report, it was found that 11 percent of children in the ages 11 to 16 reported “often hungry” or “always hungry” when they were going to school or going to bed. This hunger in Greenland, which exists among children especially, sheds light on the performance deficiencies regards to health, developmental, and academic performance. These performance deficiencies may then be associated with behavioural and psychosocial problems that continue to manifest into adulthood.

In 2010, a study was organized based on the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children where 2,254 Greenlandic students were surveyed, of which 40 percent were students in grades five to ten. In the study, the survey analyzed the occurrences of high percentages of child hunger existing in their homes. The results showed that food insecurity was related with neglect as the parents dealt with economic discrepancies and were often correlated with single-families, those living on welfare, immigrants, low educational levels and so on.

It is a beneficial first step for Greenland’s government to bring this grand concern to light. Solutions must then be made to assist these young children to receive the adequate nutrition required at such a blooming age. Children who live in poverty with low-income families, however they may be structured, need more intensive guidance from government policies and programs. Perhaps a solution to the hunger in Greenland would be to propose food drives, free school lunches, and adequate shelters as secondary arrangements to supplement the issues at home.

– Nicole Suárez

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Liechtenstein
Poverty in Liechtenstein does not seem to be a serious issue.

Liechtenstein is a small nation with limited resources, which reduces its ability to have geoeconomic clout on the world stage. Nevertheless, there are signs of prosperity in Liechtenstein such as its per capita income, which is the third highest in the world. The revenue that flows into Liechtenstein stems from the companies and corporations that maintain an office in the country for tax purposes, as Liechtenstein has long established convenient low-tax rules and regulations in order to incentivize businesses.

The increase in business and funds have benefited Liechtenstein. Unfortunately, money laundering, though somewhat of a taboo subject in Liechtenstein, is a risk: Liechtenstein is known for being an offshore financial center and tax haven.

The unemployment rates in Liechtenstein are also relatively low at 3.4 percent in recent years. The GDP per capita is around $89,400, which is fairly high. Since the population of Liechtenstein is only about 32,000, small changes have the potential to significantly affect such a small group of people.

In short, the risk of poverty in Liechtenstein seems to fairly low at the moment. This may also be a result of its magnificent educational system. Liechtenstein has several opportunities for its students to pursue both higher education in the country itself or abroad in other European nations and beyond. There is a strong tradition of providing vocational training to many students in Liechtenstein. These smart policies contribute to its stability as a nation and the low unemployment and poverty rates in general.

There are other factors as well that point to Liechtenstein’s stability and low poverty, such as its national budget. The revenues for Liechtenstein were listed $995.3 million while its expenditures were listed as $890.4 million, indicating that since the latter is less than the former, Liechtenstein essentially is without debt. More succinctly, the budget surplus of Liechtenstein is at about 2.1 percent of GDP, which is also a healthy and positive sign of growth for the nation.

All in all, Liechtenstein seems to be relatively well-off: whether the status quo will be the same in the future remains to be seen.

– Mohammad Hasan Javed

Photo: Flickr

 

Education in Norway

Ranked twenty-first on the list of leading education systems in performance, graduation rates, and funding, Norway is among the many countries in Northern Europe that places education as a priority for all youth regardless of their financial or ethnic background. In 2016, Norway provided higher education to more than 200,000 students, more than tripling the student count from 2010. Education in Norway is highly valued, however, student drop-out rates are a continuing issue.

Education in Norway is implemented in three parts: primary school, lower secondary school and upper secondary school, the first two of which are mandatory to complete. Students must go to school between the ages of six and 16, but after graduation from lower secondary school, students are given the option to either pursue upper secondary school or discontinue education to enter the job market. Upper secondary school is a three-year program that incorporates either general or vocational studies.
 
As of 2015, the completion rate of the 64,000 students enrolled in upper secondary school starting in 2010 was 59 percent. Norwegian schools are tuition-free, and Norway continually supports equality in education. So the question is: why do students drop out of upper secondary education?

The answer to this question may have little to do with Norway’s philosophy on education. In fact, it could lie in the background of each student. One major factor influencing the decision to finish schooling is grade point average in lower secondary school. If a student is presented with poorer grades in early education, their likelihood of receiving good grades or seeing their higher education through is low. While 59 percent of the student population in 2015 graduated within the given time span of their schooling, 7 percent failed final exams and 15 percent dropped out before or during their final year.

Obtaining a quality lower secondary education in Norway is an essential factor to the success in upper secondary school. Since lower secondary school occurs during the development ages of 10 to 16, it is imperative for teachers to provide students with engaging and effective curriculum specifically tailored to that age group. The focus is on basic knowledge concepts, such as reading and math, then upper secondary school is a more advanced approach that offers career-specific courses, like business or nursing.

New ideas like the Transition Project focus on low-performing students in lower secondary school to increase their reading, writing and numeracy competencies. This project provides students with follow-up workshops, homework assistance and surveys for teachers to complete and keep track of their lower-scoring students.

Reforms like the Transition Project provide students and teachers alike with cohesive learning. Teachers are able to lecture with more clarity and students are able to grasp the curriculum with more ease. Those students needing more assistance have outlets to spend more time on specific concepts. As a result, students are less likely to fall behind in their classes and will gain a better overall understanding of the curriculum based on the increase in involvement and participation with their teachers.

With an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent for students with education below upper secondary school and only 3.4 percent for students with upper secondary education, it is vital to emphasize the importance of finishing school. Norway has seen the underlying problem, and its efforts in decreasing dropout rates in upper secondary school are just beginning.

Brianna Summ

Photo: Flickr

Medical TourismTourism has been around for many years, in the past it was mainly used for research purposes for young scholars, but over time it has evolved to become its own individual industry. Medical tourism is an arising type of tourism whereby a tourist leaves their home country to receive medical attention in another. Countries visited through medical tourism are usually less developed countries, and the effects of medical tourism have been beneficial to both sides.

According to Orbis Research, in 2016 the global medical tourism market was worth $19.7 billion, and by 2021 it could reach $46.6 billion. In fact, for some developing countries, medical tourism is one of the biggest industries. India, for example is renowned for its success in the medical tourism space; in 2002 alone, the industry earned at least $2 billion in revenue for the country, and this number has gradually grown.

The effects of medical tourism have proven beneficial to less developed nations. According to a study on Thailand, “most developing country governments see medical tourism as an opportunity to generate more national income”.

Medical tourism has become a common method of seeking out cheaper medical treatment for individuals in developed countries. According to the study, “Medical Tourism: A Look at How Medical Outsourcing Can Reshape Health Care,” the examination of Howard Staab’s case in 2004 illustrates the benefits for medical tourists. In Staab’s case, the patient needed a mitral heart valve replacement surgery that had to be done within a year.

The original cost for the operation was $200,000. Staab could not negotiate with the hospital nor the insurance within the one-year policy, therefore Staab decided to travel to India for the surgery. There, the surgery came to cost $6,700 and Staab was able to save approximately $193,300. Since 2004, medical tourism has become even more cost-efficient.

Medical tourism has also become a platform for individuals from one LDC to out seek medical care from another LDC. It has become an interaction between parties, both of whom are from developing countries, for example, Afghan patients who commonly travel to India for medical treatment. The interaction between individuals from different LDCs allows for the connection of different cultures and paves a way for building an interconnected network among the LDCs.

A growing globalized network among LDCs could prove very useful in providing LDCs access to patrons working towards improving quality of life through medical care. The effects of medical tourism are to allow them to utilize resources surrounding them and depend less on foreign aid, and focus more on not only improving quality of life but also the economy of their countries.

Carla Salas

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in South Korea
While in many poor countries poverty disproportionately affects the young, the opposite is true for South Korea. After the Korean war of the 1950s, South Korea saw a period of extreme poverty, followed by a fifty-year rise to economic power. And while this rise was good news for most of the country, it also meant that the bulk of all poverty in South Korea was pushed onto its elderly population, with nearly half of all citizens over the age of 65 living in poverty.

One reason for this has been what many people have called South Korea’s cut-throat nature. Known for its ruthless competition over test scores and prestigious jobs, South Korea’s population has accumulated wealth at such a fast pace that social mores have struggled to keep up with the pace of change. In much of Asia, it has long been a tradition to honor and care for elderly relatives as part of a Confucian social contract. However, as the country’s young population has migrated to cities, away from the family unit, expectations have drastically changed. In just the past fifteen years, the percentage of young South Koreans who believe they should care for their parents has plummeted from 90 percent to 37 percent.

In the absence of this social expectation, there exists little to no government program to take its place. South Korea was ranked second-to-last in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in terms of spending on welfare for the elderly. Only a third of the elderly population receives a pension, and the pension itself makes for a threadbare living at best. Many people do not even attempt to receive the government pension out of embarrassment, since, to be eligible, an applicant has to prove that his or her children are unwilling or incapable of providing support.

Elderly and Poverty in South Korea

In 2012, South Korea enacted an ill-conceived way to improve the situation, called the “National Happiness Pension,” which only slightly raised pensions, and only for the poorest 70 percent of seniors. Addressing elderly poverty is, sadly, still not a first priority for the South Korean government, which has widespread unemployment and a tumultuous relationship with North Korea to contend with.

Since 2012, however, young South Koreans have begun to recognize the need for action. The Korea Legacy Committee, begun by Mike Kim, an entrepreneur in Seoul and the director of Asia-Pacific partnerships at Google, is dedicated to addressing this issue. Consisting of Kim and eight other Korean entrepreneurs, all working in different fields, the Korea Legacy Committee is tasked with solving this crisis of poverty, first and foremost by raising awareness of the issue. Since 2015, the KLC has held monthly events for their volunteers to interact with elderly pensioners from the Seoul Senior Welfare Center, and quarterly fundraisers, the money from which goes to the senior center’s meal program. So far, the organization has raised more than $20,000.

While South Korea’s elderly population still suffers from poverty and neglect, the rest of the population is slowly coming to terms with the depth of this issue and is finding ways to help. This will be the first step in solving this crisis. Though the end to poverty in South Korea is within sight, there is still a long way to go.

Audrey Palzkill

Poverty Rate in South Korea
The poverty rate in South Korea not only decreased in the past few decades, but it now also continues to decline. When examining the poverty rate in the country, however, there seems to be one apparent issue: the poverty rate among people who are 34 years old or younger and people who are 65 years old and older have both increased.

Comparing the two, the poverty rate among people aged over 65 is significantly higher than people below the age of 34 — 64 percent compared to 12 — and therefore a greater cause for concern for the country.

These numbers directly contrast the overall movement of the poverty rate in South Korea. Among people aged from 35 to 50 years old, the poverty rate hovers around six percent and the rate among 50 to 65 years old stays at approximately 12 percent. Seeing as the poverty rate in South Korea tends to dramatically vary based on age range, it begs the question as to what is causing such wealth disparity between the different age groups in South Korea.

The answer to such a question can primarily be attributed to two main factors: increased competition in the work force and age discrimination among employers.

As the population of South Korea continues to grow, so too does the competition for jobs. Many young South Koreans seek employment opportunities in a competitive marketplace that only becomes more competitive over time.

In combination with the slowing of the world economy, this can have devastating effects on the young as the rate of competition for jobs slowly continues to increase while the number of jobs available paradoxically decreases. This explains the youth unemployment rate in South Korea, which rose to approximately eight percent at the end of 2016.

Another major issue is the inability for people aged 65 and older to generate income. This occurs because many elderly citizens are forced out of the workplace and then do not receive enough government subsidies to survive. It is typical for companies to force employees who are in their mid-fifties into retirement with the interest of bringing in younger, “fresher” workers.

To further exacerbate this issue, the public pension system in South Korea was only established in 1988 and leaves many people who retired in the mid-2000s with little to no retirement. It is the combination of these two issues that has been significantly contributing to the increasing poverty rate in South Korea.

In order to lower the poverty rate, it may become essential that South Korea prioritizes making its public pension system more efficient so as to provide more people with funds after retirement. Without such correction, it may become impossible for elderly people in South Korea to sustain a healthy lifestyle once consistent sources of income cease.

Garrett Keyes

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in AustraliaThere are many causes of poverty in Australia. It has been almost 30 years since then Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, said, “No child will be living in poverty by 1990.” However, poverty in this country has not decreased despite recent economic growth.

Cassandra Goldie, chief executive of Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) called it a “national shame.” Despite 25 years of continued economic growth, the poverty rate has not budged. The percentage of people living in poverty rose from 12 percent in 2004 to 13 percent in 2014. Moreover, Australia has the second-highest rate of workers employed in insecure work – a total of 40 percent. Children are the worst-affected by poverty in Australia; 17 percent of children live below the poverty line. The percentage of children living in poverty is especially high for single-parent families. The number rose from 37 percent in 2012 to 41 percent in 2014.

What are the causes of poverty in Australia? Some activists blame the growing wage gap in the country. Australia’s wealthiest 10 percent own 45 percent of the capital in the country, and the gap is only widening. The wealth of the top 20 percent has increased by 28 percent between 2012 and 2014. Meanwhile, the bottom 20 percent have experienced a wealth increase of only three percent. The average wage increased by 50 percent between 1985 and 2010. Meanwhile, the poorest 10 percent experienced only a 14 percent wage increase.

Another reason that is suggested as a cause of poverty in Australia is the cuts to welfare payments and housing. Goldie claims that budget cuts to welfare payments directly affect the ability of the impoverished to gain employment. Public housing is also not widespread enough. There are more than 150,000 applicants waiting to find available space in public housing.

The decline of unions is also suggested as one of the causes of poverty in Australia. Unions help drive up wages and economic equality. However, lately, union membership has decreased. This means that ordinary workers get less political power.

Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, needs to focus more energy on addressing poverty. This means increasing shelter for the homeless, encouraging union membership and driving up the minimum wage. There are many causes of poverty in Australia, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be addressed in order to begin seeing improvement.

Bruce Edwin Ayres Truax

Photo: Google

Human Rights in IrelandIreland, a small country located just west of the United Kingdom, is known for its scenic landscapes and welcoming pubs.

In recent years, human rights in Ireland have fallen under scrutiny.

According to an article from the Irish Times, Ireland agreed to be a part of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1989, which is concerned with a range of human rights from employment rights to the right to food and water. Since entering this agreement, Ireland has been monitored by the UN.

Concerns arose with respect to Ireland following this agreement in 1999 and 2002, after the UN committee reviewed two reports. The country was found to be lacking in areas of anti-poverty, rights for persons with disabilities, provision of healthcare and more.

The UN committee later examined similar human rights issues in December 2014, focusing on the ill treatment of persons with disabilities in residential care, low minimum wage, failure of the State to recognize traveler ethnicity and affordable and quality water supply. It had been over a decade since the UN committee last reviewed Ireland’s economic, social and cultural rights, according to the Irish Times article.

Another prominent human rights issue in Ireland is abortion. According to a report from Human Rights in Ireland, abortion is only legal there when the mother’s life is in danger. This, the report says, makes Ireland’s policies on abortion some of the strictest in the world.

Last month, the Committee Against Torture turned toward Ireland’s lack of progress in respect to their laws on abortion. This organization has said that prior to any adjustments of its abortion laws, Ireland must explain its human rights obligations to its residents. According to Human Rights in Ireland, four other major international human rights committees have criticized the Irish framework in the past as well.

While issues of human rights in Ireland have fallen under scrutiny in recent years, global organizations are at work to improve conditions for the country’s residents.

Leah Potter

Photo: Google

Human Rights in Iceland
Iceland is a Nordic nation with a population slightly over 300,000 people. Despite its small size, Iceland stands out among other nations in a variety of ways. Geographically, the nation is known for its beautiful sights including volcanoes and hot springs. Economically, the nation boasts an impressive statistics, such as its four percent unemployment rate. Human rights in Iceland are protected fairly well, but certain aspects could be improved.

The United States Department of State’s 2015 Human Rights Report on Iceland concluded that the nation’s biggest failures in this context were to protect women and children from violence. These issues tended to stem from the criminal justice system. For instance, pretrial detainees were forced to share a cell with convicted prisoners, while juveniles were forced to share a cell with adults.

Unfortunately, the report found issues existing beyond the criminal justice system. Discrepancies in access to health care for certain individuals was noticeable. Researchers also found discrimination against people with disabilities in regard to employment and access to public locations. This report clearly demonstrates that Iceland must take measures so that human rights truly include everyone.

However, these few failures do not represent the entire situation in Iceland. In fact, the vast majority of human rights in Iceland are well protected. Freedom of speech and the press are protected by the constitution and the law in Iceland. The law is able to fine and/or imprison anyone who blocks people from this right.

Another area of success is Iceland’s protection of workers’ rights. The government effectively enforces laws that defend workers’ rights to form or join a union. Iceland also uses its laws to protect children from unhealthy work conditions. These laws are effectively enforced, and as a result, there are no known cases of child labor.

Iceland took a step forward in protecting the human rights of women this March by becoming the world’s first country to mandate that businesses demonstrate that they offer equal pay to employees regardless of their gender. This law affects all businesses, public and private, that employ over 25 people.

Human rights in Iceland are not perfectly protected. However, steps such as demanding equal pay for employees regardless of their gender shows that progress is being made.

Adam Braunstein

Photo: Flickr