This blog post was written by Paul O’Brien, Vice President for Policy and Campaigns at Oxfam America.
You’ve heard the old line about how a “rising tide lifts all boats”? In fact, the evidence shows that the “rising tide” of global economic growth is in fact lifting mostly yachts; meanwhile, a lot of people are getting dumped in the water.
Today Oxfam released new research that shows how people’s incomes are becoming more unequal in the world’s largest economies. Oxfam focused on the G20 countries because they are the self-appointed leaders of the global economy and, indeed, constitute more than 70 percent of the world’s GDP. A survey of the G20 countries shows that only four have made progress since 1990 in reducing inequality; sixteen have seen the income gap grow, slowing or stopping progress to reduce poverty. Not only is economic growth in those countries failing to “trickle down” to ordinary people, but the G20 economies are rapidly exhausting the natural resources they need to support our health and prosperity. That ecological burden falls most on the poor, who by and large lack the resources to cope with the resulting environmental degradation, particularly climate change.