Wealth Inequality in India India is considered to be one of the foremost emerging economies in the world and has a rapidly growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Despite this, the annual Global Hunger Index (GHI) has put India at 100th place among 119 countries. This is a case where the GDP does not properly represent the country’s situation, as it is facing major wealth inequality. In India, the top 10 percent of the population control the country’s wealth, while the common people, more than a billion in number, fall along the lower end of the Hunger Index. The major causes of wealth inequality in India can be attributed to a large number of people in India being either unemployed or underemployed.

The country is experiencing poverty growth, as poverty will only increase with joblessness and lead to more hunger in the rural and semi-urban landscape. The hunger problem persists, despite the government spending to feed the people. In addition, this has prevented the country from allocating more fiscal resources toward infrastructure and other areas needed to develop the economy. Even with India having the world’s fastest-growing economy over the last three years, the problems persist.

It is not all negative though, as the undernourishment level and child mortality rate in the country has declined significantly since 1991, though the issues are still serious. The International Food Policy Research Institute said in a statement, “India was rated as ‘alarming’ in 2013 and has experienced an improvement in its GHI score over recent years. Since 2000, the country has reduced its GHI score by a quarter.” The statement continues on with, “India is making tremendous progress, but we have significant challenges ahead.”

In an attempt to address the causes of poverty and wealth inequality in India, among other countries, the United Nations declared a set of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the start of the millennium, which they aimed to complete by 2015. After their inability to achieve this within the targeted date, the U.N. expanded and modified the goals to a total of 17 goals to be achieved by 2030, called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The first two of these goals, featured in both MDGs and SDGs, are the removal of hunger and poverty. Since becoming a quickly emerging economy, India has pledged to work toward these goals. It has been committed to achieving SDGs, focusing specifically on ending poverty. The Indian government believes that if poverty can be removed, hunger will go along with it. Malnourishment comes from the inability to procure food because of a lack of money, so India remains a country of constraints with its large wealth disparity.

If we hope to combat the causes of wealth inequality in India, we must improve the underemployment of India. The National Institutions for Transforming India claims that a “severe under-employment” is the main problem facing India. According to the Institutions, in order to combat underemployment, and thus reduce poverty, “what is needed is the creation of high-productivity, high-wage jobs.”

Drew Fox

Photo: Flickr

Immigrant In-Equality: Causes of Poverty in Liechtenstein

The Principality of Liechtenstein is a country located in Europe that is landlocked between Switzerland and Austria. It is a relatively wealthy country, containing one of the highest measures of GDP per capita in the world, a low inflation rate and the benefits of a monetary and economic union with Switzerland. It therefore has one of the highest standards of living across the globe, although it comes with the trade-off of an extremely high cost of living.

Much of the country’s wealth can be attributed to its status as a tax haven, though it has taken steps in recent years to regulate and rid itself of this image and to reposition itself as a legitimate financial center. Despite the country’s economic successes, there is still poverty to be found here.

The causes of poverty in Liechtenstein become evident when analyzing the immigration policies put in place by the country’s government. In 2013, many media outlets in Europe began to report that the growing immigrant population was composed of many low-income families. This is mainly due to the increased share of the population that are immigrants, with the incomes earned by these immigrants being lower than those of the native population. This has caused the overall income growth of Liechtenstein to be subjected to downward pressure in recent years.

The unemployment rate of immigrants in Liechtenstein is approximately twice as large as it is for national citizens that have lived in Liechtenstein for their entire lives. In terms of how this applies in practice, one in two unemployed persons living in Liechtenstein is an immigrant. Despite these concerns, compared to other European countries, Liechtenstein remains in a prosperous position and the unemployment rate in general is at a very low level. As of 2012, the average unemployment rate faced by the country was 2.4 percent, with the unemployment for national citizens being 1.7 percent, compared to immigrants, who had an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.

This is the result of a restrictive immigration policy based on bilateral agreements and clear economic considerations, combined with the insatiable job demand of Liechtenstein’s economy. One of the essential guidelines for immigrants is that there is a requirement for the person immigrating to have the ability to support one’s own cost of living when applying for residence. This means that the onset of poverty usually occurs sometime after having immigrated, with the main reasons for poverty ultimately being unemployment, illnesses, death of an employed family member and excessive indebtedness.

A relevant quote by economist John Kenneth Galbraith rings true with poverty in Liechtenstein, in which he writes, “people are poverty-stricken when their income, even if adequate for survival, falls markedly behind that of the community.” This is one of the main causes of poverty in Liechtenstein and it illustrates an area that can be improved upon, leading to a greater equality of wealth between national citizens and immigrants and less poverty overall.

Drew Fox

Photo: Flickr

Slovenia Poverty Rate

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, one country that seemed to get overlooked was Slovenia. A Balkan country located in the heart of Central Europe, Slovenia wasn’t regularly mentioned in any newspapers or government hearings, but it, too, has had long-lasting economic issues.

The Slovenia poverty rate skyrocketed in four years, from 11.3 percent in 2008 to 14.5 percent in 2012, according to the World Bank. This number has since hovered around that peak, with the most recent data out of the C.I.A. World Factbook stating that, as of 2015, Slovenia’s poverty rate has remained at 14.3 percent.

Furthermore, Slovenia’s unemployment rate also saw a massive multi-year increase, from 4.38 percent in 2008 to 10.11 percent in 2013, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. World Bank data also shows that Slovenia’s GDP saw steady decreases while their population grew slightly over the same period.

The economic situation in Slovenia, though, has begun to change for the better. While Slovenia’s poverty rate, unemployment rate and the like have worsened since 2008, their trajectories are now turning around, forecasting a positive future for the small European nation.

By focusing on its economy, Slovenia has used export development as a catalyst to improve other societal factors. The Slovenia poverty rate, while currently at 14.3 percent, hasn’t worsened, their unemployment rate has dropped to 8.01 percent of the labor force and their projected GDP growth rate is a respectable 3.1 percent.

What this means is that, while Slovenia has undoubtedly suffered economic hardships over the last decade, there is hope for the future. With Slovenia’s poverty rate stabilizing and with other economic factors seeing marked improvements, Slovenia is on track to make a strong recovery. The next few years could be bright for the country and its people.

John Mirandette

Photo: Flickr

Youth Unemployment CrisisYouth unemployment is an increasing worldwide crisis. As of 2016, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that 71 million 15 to 24-year-olds around the world are unemployed, many of whom are facing long-term unemployment. To put this number into perspective, youth unemployment is “close to an historic peak” of 13 percent.

The youth unemployment crisis impacts low-income countries the most because even employed citizens are at risk of poverty. In 2016 the ILO estimated that about 156 million employed youths in these countries lived in poverty. This makes up a substantial 38 percent of youths in developing nations.

For the sake of the world’s economy as well as these youths, here are four potential solutions to the youth unemployment crisis:

  1. One of the main causes of the youth unemployment crisis is the lack of quality education worldwide. It was reported in 2016 that about 40 percent of employers find it difficult to recruit people with needed skills. This is because about 250 million children worldwide do not acquire basic reading, writing and math skills. Therefore, nearly one in five youths do not gain the most basic skills needed for employment. By ensuring quality education globally, students will be able to acquire skills needed for gaining employment.
  2. A significant number of youths cannot acquire the education needed for employment because of crisis and conflict. An estimated 75 million children between the ages of three and 18 currently live in countries that are in conflict. These children are twice as likely as their counterparts to have no access to quality education. Thus, to resolve the youth unemployment crisis by allowing youth to get jobs, crisis and conflict in war-torn countries must first be dramatically reduced.
  3. To resolve the youth unemployment crisis, the focus must also shift toward gender equality in education. Gender distribution in the international labor force is woefully disproportionate. According to the ILO, 53.9 percent of young men compared to 37.3 percent of young women are employed. This is due in part to cultural beliefs regarding working women, but also has to do with a lack of women’s education. Globally, 61 million young women are not enrolled in primary or lower-secondary school, giving them little opportunity to gain skills for employment. This includes literacy, as “two-thirds of the world’s illiterates are women.” Therefore, addressing gender inequality in education is a necessary step towards reducing youth unemployment.
  4. Aside from reforming education, tackling youth unemployment will also take commitment to funding research, educational programs and employment programs. In order to finance these programs, funding for education needs to increase to $3 trillion by 2030. As the current investment in education stands at $1.2 trillion, reaching this goal requires large-scale cooperation. This means that companies, governments, non-government organizations and schools must form partnerships to invest in research and solutions to youth unemployment.

Resolving the youth unemployment crisis is critical for not only the well-being of youths worldwide, but also for the global economy. Mass youth unemployment slows progress and thereby it is essential to take steps toward ending it.

Haley Hurtt
Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in BulgariaAlong the coast of the Black Sea lies a country possessing such a diverse set of landscapes, that attempting to characterize it in any one way is impossible. Bulgaria boasts an abundance of natural beauty, rich history and distinctive culture, entirely situated within the Balkans peninsula.

With its beautiful lakes, mountains and historic towns, it is no surprise many have moved from different countries in Europe to Bulgaria in search of the scenic life. Around 18,000 Britons have made the choice.

The terrain is obviously not the lone incentive for those deciding to relocate. Of course, another major source of motivation is the cost of living in Bulgaria. For those arriving from the U.K., the cost of living in Bulgaria is lower across the board. From house prices or rent, to utilities, to food, even to clothes.

While this creates an opportunity for some to afford more and lead an improved standard of life than possible elsewhere, the cost of living in Bulgaria is not as low as it is for good reason.

The 2008 financial crash hit Bulgaria harder than almost anywhere else in the E.U. When Bulgaria’s property bubble burst, house prices fell rapidly, along with the number of property buyers.

As the property bubble had been the chief driver of GDP in the nation, economic growth was drawn to a sharp halt in 2008. This resulted in wages plummeting and unemployment soaring.

In 2013, Bulgaria’s unemployment rate rose to almost 12 percent and the average annual wage was less than 2000 euros. The number of Bulgarians out of work and earning so little spelled trouble for the country’s consumer market.

The financial crash led to Bulgaria’s GDP becoming the lowest in the E.U. Consequently, the cost of living in Bulgaria dropped significantly, yet only relatively so.

While the cost of living in Bulgaria is remarkably low, in 2016 it was reported that just under 80 percent of Bulgarian households still lived below the cost of living.

It is the existence of such widespread poverty that is credited as the principal reason for a recent survey finding that Bulgaria was the unhappiest country in the E.U., with an average life satisfaction score of less than five out of ten.

After nearly five years of stagnant house prices, they are at last beginning to rise. The recovery is due to interest rates decreasing and general stability increase in the economy.

According to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, there is a growing demand in Bulgaria for a highly skilled workforce. There is hope that this rising demand will increase the portion of the population living in the income bracket which sees them above the cost of living.

Cornell Holland
Photo: Flickr

France’s Poverty RateIn the near-decade since the global financial crisis, France, Europe’s third largest economy, has taken longer to recover than other major economies. Specifically, the French economy posted a growth rate just below 1.1 percent in 2015, lower than the growth in Germany (1.7 percent) and the U.K. (2.2 percent), the two largest economies in Europe. Despite the crisis and stagnant economic growth, France’s poverty rate has remained relatively low compared to other EU nations.

The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) officially reported France’s poverty rate from 2014 at 14.1 percent, equating to more than nine million people. INSEE estimated that the 2015 rate would grow to 14.3 percent, and plans to release the official statistics in September. This rate is better than the EU average of 17.2 percent, as well as many individual European economies, but still covers a large portion of the French population.

When determining the economic status of France, the poverty rate should not be the only number consulted. Unemployment remains high in France. In the most recently reported month, June 2017, unemployment in France stood at 9.6 percent. This is higher than the average in the EU and is more than twice the rates in Germany (3.8) and the U.S. (4.4) from the same month. Nearly three million people who are looking for a job in France cannot find one. Additionally, there is the concern of the next generation of French workers since the unemployment rate for workers between the ages of 15 and 24 is 24 percent.

However, it is difficult to determine whether there is a link between lowering the unemployment rate and lowering France’s poverty rate. France calculates its poverty rate in a relative manner, using an income of 60 percent or less than the average median income in the country as the poverty line. Gaining employment in France increases an individual’s income, but also shifts the poverty line as the median income changes. However, the high unemployment rate does have major implications on the future of the French economy.

Addressing poverty, the high unemployment rate and economic growth are major challenges faced by recently inaugurated president Emmanuel Macron. President Macron endorsed a number of proposals to address these issues during his campaign. The proposals include training programs for more than one million young people, making working hours more flexible and offering incentives to businesses hiring from poor neighborhoods. Implementation of and results from these proposals may not be seen for some time, but each works to address the poverty rate, unemployment rate and economic growth in France.

Erik Beck

Photo: Google

The Business of Impact SourcingOn June 12, 2017, SAP Ariba, a software and information technology company, and Samasource, a nonprofit organization working to fight poverty, announced their partnership. Both organizations hope to fight poverty through collaboration and an innovation known as impact sourcing.

Samasource, founded in 2008, works to fight poverty by using the model also referred to as socially responsible outsourcing. Impact sourcing primarily helps the disadvantaged rather than as a means of saving capital. The model provides impoverished individuals with access to work and training.

Samasource does this by partnering with other organizations interested in increasing the social impact of their companies. Using a business model called “microwork,” Samasource breaks down a company’s large scale data projects into smaller pieces. Then, they outsource the smaller projects to people in need of work in the United States and throughout the world. These new workers are trained in computer (and other necessary) skills.

Samasource helped lift more than 36,000 people out of poverty through this revolutionary model.

But impact sourcing is not limited to Samasoucre. Digital Divide Data is a social enterprise that seeks to deliver high-quality digital content to its customers. The company relies on impact sourcing to assist disadvantaged youth from low-income families secure jobs. Digital Divide Data helped lead numerous individuals out of poverty by doing this since 2001.

ImpactHub is an online platform that seeks to connect businesses with service providers that will match them with “high potential but disadvantaged women and youth.”

Currently, about 1.8 billion people around the world cannot find work and do not have access to higher education. Africa will soon hold one of the largest workforces on the planet, but will not have enough readily available jobs to supply their needs. Impact sourcing is a viable solution to this problem. Today, more than 500,000 people are working because of impact sourcing.

Impact sourcing is a growing business model. Similar to microfinancing, it continues to garner attention and support in the business community.

Rebeca Ilisoi

Photo: Flickr

Macedonia is a relatively small country north of Greece with a population of just over two million people. Since gaining its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia has striven to improve its economic and democratic stability. As international aid and Macedonia’s own efforts to end food insecurity are at an all-time high, hunger in Macedonia has decreased drastically.

In accordance with the last set of Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations, only between 1.3 percent and 2.1 percent of children under the age of five are malnourished. A new set of goals strives to eradicate hunger completely by 2030.

Although this percentage seems small, Macedonia’s history and present state of political unrest have made it difficult to resolve issues of hunger entirely. According to a study completed this year, one-third of the country’s population remains in poverty. This rate is even higher for families with children, an issue explainable by the country’s unemployment rate, which is the highest in Europe. To tackle the looming issue of unemployment and its effect on hunger in Macedonia, the Ministry of Education and Science has worked to improve children’s access to and the quality of education.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has taken a firm stand behind this cause and worked during the past decade to institute programs that enrich student literacy and numerical competency, help disabled students and provide more opportunities for minority individuals. Furthermore, the Macedonian government is pushing its students to study abroad and also welcoming individuals from other countries to attend its universities.

Statistics at the end of 2016 indicate a strong response to this push for better education to eliminate unemployment and poverty in Macedonia. The country’s unemployment rate was reported to be 23.1 percent, compared to its high, in 2005, of 37.27 percent.

Programs put in place have already increased work readiness and lowered unemployment, which will cut off the cycle that has continued sustaining levels of hunger in Macedonia.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Flickr

With years of government instability and a decade of war, Iraqi’s have had to suffer through harsh economic woes. With the lack of infrastructure and only the very beginnings of a stable government, the average Iraqi has been affected by the economy the most. Here are 10 things you need to know about unemployment in Iraq.

  1. As of 2016, the unemployment in Iraq reached 16 percent. For the last decade, Iraq’s unemployment has stayed alarmingly stagnant with the lowest year for unemployment being 2014, with a 15 percent unemployment rate.
  2. The Iraqi population, currently at 34 million, is predicted to reach 50 million by 2030.
  3. The Iraq government employs 40 percent of the population, but, 48 percent of those jobs can only be found in urban areas.
  4. Fifty percent of Iraq’s population is under the age of 19, but the youth population (ages 14-24) is highly affected by the economic woes leading to unemployment in Iraq. Eighteen percent of youth are unemployed.
  5. Ninety-nine percent of the government’s revenue is made by the oil sector, but only one percent of Iraqis work in the oil sector.
  6. Due to the high increasing tensions with the Islamic State rising in Iraq, oil companies are beginning to pull out a number of their facilities within the nation. In 2015, Chevron, the second-largest oil company in the U.S., pulled out two of its oil blocks. Last December, Exxon Mobil, the largest oil company in the U.S., pulled out three of its six blocks in Kurdistan. This type of sudden movement out of Iraq leads to loss of revenue for the government and has also led to the investment of other companies being halted. All of these factors highly affect the unemployment in Iraq.
  7. Five million Iraqis live in Kurdistan, one of the poorest areas in the nation. In 2015, Kurds were affected when 700,000 lost their jobs.
  8. Currently, 23 percent of people in Iraq live below the poverty line.
  9. The Iraqi government has tried to make a difference in the poverty levels. In 2015, the Ministry of Planning implemented a program aimed at ending poverty, which consisted of a five-year plan to decrease poverty to 10 percent. At the end of that same year, the MoP confirmed that its plan had failed, and no new attempts have been made since.
  10. The increasing influx of refugees has put a harsh strain on the already crippling economy of Iraq. As of 2015, two million refugees had been displaced all over Iraq because of conflicts with the Islamic State.

It is apparent that Iraq is in need of a new strategy to help restore its economy. Hopefully action is taken before the country falls into further disrepair.

Maria Rodriguez

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Macedonia
The small landlocked European country of Macedonia, located north of Greece, has only been officially declared an independent nation since 1991 after winning independence from Yugoslavia. During this short time, the population of Macedonia has struggled with the spread of poverty and remains among the ten poorest countries in Europe. Here are four facts about poverty in Macedonia:

  1. Nearly one-third of Macedonian citizens are poor. A calculated 30.4 percent of people in Macedonia live below the poverty line. Macedonia’s national population is just over two million people, which means a shocking 600,000 individuals are currently living below the poverty line. This is more than double the rate of poverty in the U.S., which measured at 13.5 percent in 2015.
  2. Political and ethnic tensions are contributing factors to the widespread poverty. Suspected government corruption in elections and ongoing prejudice between the Albanian and Macedonian populations prevent the stability necessary for economic improvement. As one Western diplomat claimed while choosing to remain anonymous, “When people have no money, they try to find someone to blame. In Macedonia’s case, ethnic groups blame each other for their misfortunes.”
  3. Unemployment is a major cause of poverty in Macedonia. The rate of unemployment in Macedonia was 23.4 percent in 2016, rendering one in four people unable to find work. The shift from a Yugoslavian command economy, in which the central government mandated many aspects of the market such as prices, incomes and investments, to the modern democratic economy, subject to volatile influences such as supply and demand, has left many citizens without job opportunities.
  4. Children may suffer the effects of poverty in Macedonia more than the adults. Even as progress is made to reduce the national poverty level, families with young children have far higher rates of poverty compared to the national average. According to a comprehensive study by UNICEF, the rates of poverty in Macedonia among households with children increased from 49.3 percent in 2002 to 66.6 percent in 2007. This is especially true among small-scale farmers in rural areas, who comprise 40 percent of the poor in Macedonia.

Future efforts to improve the economic standing of Macedonia will depend largely on expanding the job market and improving local infrastructure. Foreign investors may be able to solve both problems, especially from the United Kingdom and from Germany, as Macedonia continues to stabilize its new governmental structure and appeal to other European countries for support.

Dan Krajewski

Photo: Flickr