New Internationalist

A Kind of Sharing

Issue 084

In the ‘Money’ issue of the New Internationalist we looked at how the national income of certain countries was shared between various social groups. Now Ceres, the magazine of the Food and Agricultural Organisation, has done the same - on a global scale. In a recent issue (No 70, 1979) it published distribution of world income figures for 1968 and 1976 reproduced here.

The conclusions bear out what many suspected. The relative share of the world’s income which accrues to the poor has dwindled over the eight years. Or put another way, injustice has increased. In broad terms the richest third of humanity maintained their share of the global income at a comfortable 80 per cent, whilst the poorest third had their share reduced from five per cent to less than three per cent. Unfortunately the presentation of the statistics does not show just how dramatic has been the loss of the poorest tenth of the world’s people, whose drop from 1.2 to 0.72 per cent of global income represents a decline of 40 per cent over the eight years. Such statistics are only ‘cash registers’ and they ignore the non-cash incomes of millions of peasant farmers who, for example, grow most of their own food. But they do show that ’ To him who hath shall be given’ is still the guiding principle of economic development.

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