25 August 2005

Report on the World Situation 2005: The Inequality Predicament

United Nations 2005 Report on the World Social Situation Finds Much of the World Trapped in an "Inequality Predicament"

World more unequal than 10 Years ago

(Re-issued as received.)

NEW YORK, 25 August (UN Headquarters) -- Though some parts of the world have experienced unprecedented growth and improvement in living standards in recent years, poverty remains entrenched and much of the world is trapped in an inequality predicament.

The United Nations Report on the World Social Situation 2005: the Inequality Predicament, issued today, sounds the alarm over persistent and deepening inequality worldwide. The Report focuses on the chasm between the formal and informal economies, the widening gap between skilled and unskilled workers, the growing disparities in health, education and opportunities for social, economic and political participation.

"By detailing some of the most critical issues affecting social development today, the Report can help guide decisive action to build a more secure and prosperous world in which people are better able to enjoy their fundamental human rights and freedoms. Overcoming the inequality predicament is an essential element of this quest," said United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Departing from approaches that have focused on economic growth as a panacea to development problems, the Report notes that a focus on growth and income generation neither sufficiently captures nor addresses the inter-generational transmission of poverty; it can lead to the  accumulation of wealth by a few and deepen the poverty of many. In fact, despite considerable economic growth in many regions, the world is more unequal than it was 10 years ago.

"We will not be able to advance the development agenda without addressing the challenges of inequality within and between countries," said José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs. Ocampo also noted that "the timing of the Report could not be better. With 2015 as the target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, it is the right time to incorporate the goal of reducing inequality in our strategies to promote development, security and human rights for all."

According to the Report on the World Social Situation 2005: The Inequality Predicament:

Inequalities between and within countries have accompanied globalization. These inequalities have had negative consequences in many areas, including employment, job security and wages. However, there is still debate concerning the specific role of liberalization and deregulation policies in these trends.

Based on these findings, the Report on the World Social Situation 2005 recommends that:

Unless attention is paid to redressing global inequality and pursuing the comprehensive vision of social development agreed upon at the Social Summit in Copenhagen in 1995, the Report warns that the inequality predicament will be perpetuated, frustrating efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

For further information, please contact Roberto Guimaraes in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Tel. (917) 367-2190, e-mail: guimaraesr@un.org .

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Produced by the United Nations Department of Public Information