Mansions on one side of the road, and slums on the other. People queuing for food rations, while others drive by in shiny Land Rovers with tinted windows.
These are just some of the sights that have confronted Danielle Nierenberg as she traveled through 30 countries to supervise the Worldwatch Institute’s report titled ‘State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet’.
"You can see the stark differences within a single country very easily, and you see it every day," she told IPS. "In Africa it doesn’t look like the recession has affected the very wealthy. It has affected poor people the most...."
Even in "traditionally egalitarian countries", such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany, the income gap has risen from 5 to 1 in the 1980s to 6 to 1 today. The gap is 10 to 1 in the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan and Korea, and higher (at 14 to 1) in the United States, Israel and Turkey, according to the report.
New data for the United States show that the "share of after-tax household income for the top 1 percent more than doubled" from 1979 to 2007, while the share of the "bottom" 20 percent of the population fell from 7 percent to 5 percent.
"This is one of our most important assessments," said the OECD’s Secretary-General Angel Gurria as he launched the report at the organisation’s headquarters here. "We say ‘divided we stand’ because we have grown unequally...."
"The social contract is starting to unravel in many countries," Gurria said. Uncertainty and fears of social decline and exclusion have reached the middle class in many societies. People feel that they are bearing the brunt of a crisis for which they have no responsibility while those on high incomes appear to have been spared." [emphasis added]
Read the whole article at IPS