The Top Countries Trying to Reduce Inequality
Indonesia was among countries praised for trying to reduce inequality, through policies on social spending, tax and labour rights Image: REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan - RC1B9902BE30

The Top Countries Trying to Reduce Inequality

Nigeria, Singapore and India are among countries fuelling the inequality gap between the super-rich and poor. This according to a report from the World Economic Forum and aid agency Oxfam. Oxfam recently launched an index spotlighting those nations attempting to bridge the divide.

Among the top countries praised for their efforts to reduce inequality were: South Korea, Georgia and Indonesia. These countries concentrated their efforts on policies on social spending, tax and labour rights.

According to Oxfam, inequality had reached crisis levels. The richest 1 percent of the global population held four fifths of wealth created between mid-2016 and mid-2017, while the poorest half saw no increase in wealth.

The total index consists of 157 countries. The full report appears just as financial policymakers worldwide come together for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings.


Noteworthy Performers

At the bottom of the list was Nigeria, where 10 percent of children die before their fifth birthday. Their “shamefully low” social spending, poor tax collection, and rising labour rights violations, were at the root of this standing. Oxfam emphasized that tackling inequality did not depend on a country’s wealth, but on political will.

Singapore, one of the world’s richest countries, came in the bottom 10. Part of the cause of this were the country’s practices which facilitate tax dodging. The city state, which has no universal minimum wage, also did poorly on labour rights.

Other noteworthy countries on the list include: South Korea (56). South Korea was praised for bumping its minimum wage up by 16.4% last year. As well, Georgia (49) for increasing education spending by nearly 6% – more than any other country.

At the top spot in the index was Denmark. This evidenced by the country’s track record on progressive taxation, social spending and worker protections. However, Oxfam warned that recent administrations had eroded good policies and inequality had risen.

Closing the Inequality Gap by 2030

The report urged world leaders towards their pledge to reduce inequality by 2030.

“We see children dying from preventable diseases because of a lack of healthcare funding while rich corporations and individuals dodge billions of dollars in tax,” Oxfam boss Winnie Byanyima said.

“Governments often tell us they are committed to fighting poverty and inequality – this index shows whether their actions live up to their promises.”

Lastly, it is important to note that the index included an indicator on violence against women. In the report, less than half of countries demonstrated adequate laws on sexual harassment and rape.

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