The surprising truth about global inequality

Plus: homes for Page 3 refugees, and who’s gained from falling energy prices

24 January 2015

9:00 AM

24 January 2015

9:00 AM

Poor data

Oxfam complained of an ‘inequality explosion’, citing an estimate that by next year 1 per cent of the world’s population will own half the wealth, but little other evidence. Is global inequality really growing, and does it matter?
— There have been few estimates of global inequality in income and wealth, but one recent one was contained in a Unicef report in 2011 which revealed that on some measures global inequality is falling. In 1990, it claimed that the wealthiest 20% of people on the planet received 87% of global income. By 2007 that had fallen to 83%. Over the same period the poorest fifth of the population saw their share of wealth increase from 0.8% to 1%.
— If there has been a concentration of wealth at the extreme upper end, it hasn’t stopped the decline of extreme poverty. In 1990, according to the United Nations World Food Programme, there were 1 billion people in the world suffering from undernourishment. By last year it was 805 million, in spite of population growth.

Porn again

For those who feel aggrieved at the loss of Page 3, there are always another 260 million more pages to enjoy — an estimate by internet filtering company N2H2 of the number of pages of pornographic material on the internet. Some more stats:

Number of porn websites 4.2m
Pornographic emails sent daily 2.5bn
Porn downloads daily 1.5bn

Source: Internet Filter Review

Paying for the party

A Cornish mother invoiced the parents of her son’s friend £15.95 after he failed to turn up to a fifth birthday party at a dry ski slope. How much do parents spend on children’s birthday parties?
£214: survey by Littlewoods, 2013
£270: survey by Holiday Inn, 2012
£300: survey by Mums Show Live, 2013

Wholesale profiteering

Several energy companies announced price cuts. Who has gained most from falling wholesale energy costs? Last year, the average duel-fuel household energy bill was £1,338, up from £1,312, adjusted for inflation, in 2009. Here’s how the composition of the typical bill has changed:

VAT £62
Operating costs £148
Network/environmental costs £318
Wholesale energy costs £774
Profit £10


VAT £65
Operating costs £174
Network/environmental costs £386
Wholesale energy costs £636
Profit £77

Source: Ofgem

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  • Yorkieeye

    And what is Oxfam’s prescription for the woes of Africa because it’s been peddling the same old schtick for fifty years apparently (by its own admission) to no avail? Maybe it’s time to drop the collectivist/socialist model and just spend the money to allow people to set up businesses. Then maybe at some point in the future some Africans can join the 1% when they come up with a product that the whole world wants to buy.

  • English_Independence_Movement

    Instead of hobbling the successful, shouldn’t we be asking why the others are so unproductive?