A family of nations: 'Haves' and 'have nots'
World trade: Why is it important?
Food aid
Beating the debt burden
The challenge of food production
The view from space: Building models of the world
Transfer of technology
A question of commitment

Building the global community
Dimensions of Need




A family of nations: 'Haves' and 'have nots'
Inequality and instability often go hand in hand.

There is a narrowing gap in terms of human survival, but still a widening one in some measures of quality of life such as incomes and years of schooling.

The world, as a whole, is getting steadily wealthier. Global income has increased seven-fold over the past 50 years while income per person has more than tripled. But this wealth is poorly distributed. By the early 1990s, about 20 percent of the world's population most of it in the developed world - received over 80 percent of the world's income, while the poorest 20 percent received only 1.4 percent. The developed countries consume 70 percent of the world's energy, 75 percent of its metals, 85 percent of its wood and 60 percent of its food.

In the developing world, the people spend a higher proportion of their small incomes on food than their counterparts in the industrialized countries. Food supplies tend to be unpredictable and nutrition poor. Jobs are scarce. Investment in education, health and sanitation is low. In some developing countries per caput income is falling. It fell on average by 2.4 percent a year in Haiti in the 1980s, in Zaire by 1.3 percent and in Mozambique by 1.1 percent. Per caput food production fell during the 1980s in at least 58 countries: by 1990, food availability was lower than total calorie needs in more than 40 developing countries.

Some of the gaps between rich and poor nations have narrowed since the 1960s, others have grown, but life expectancy is low and child mortality remains high in the poorest countries.

Developing nations often lack the institutions and mechanisms to redistribute their income. Unequal income distribution means that the top fifth of the population may receive as much as 25 times the income of the bottom fifth. Domestic policies are often biased in favour of urban populations: on average, rural communities, while still the majority in most developing countries, receive less than half the educational, health, water and sanitary services.

Global and national inequalities encourage migration and can create social unrest. An unequal world is an unstable world.


Gaps in human development

Click here to see the statistics
*Estimate Source: UNDP


Income disparity between the richest and the poorest

Income disparity between the richest 20 percent and the poorest 20 percent of the world's population

Source: UNDP