People's Stories Livelihood


Rising inequality affecting more than two-thirds of the globe
by DESA, International Labour Organization
 
Jan. 2020
 
Currently working poverty (defined as earning less than US$3.20 per day in purchasing power parity terms) affects more than 630 million workers, or one in five of the global working population.
 
Half a billion people are working fewer paid hours than they would like or lack adequate access to paid work, according to a new International Labour Organization (ILO) report.
 
In addition, the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2020 (WESO) shows that unemployment is projected to increase in 2020.
 
Global unemployment has been roughly stable for the last nine years but slowing global economic growth means that, as the global labour force increases, not enough new jobs are being generated to absorb new entrants to the labour market.
 
“For millions of ordinary people, it’s increasingly difficult to build better lives through work,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. “Persisting and substantial work-related inequalities and exclusion are preventing them from finding decent work and better futures. That’s an extremely serious finding that has profound and worrying implications for social cohesion.”
 
The ILO study shows that the mismatch between labour supply and demand extends beyond unemployment into broader labour underutilization. In addition to the global number of unemployed (188 million), 165 million people don’t have enough paid work and 120 million have either given up actively searching for work or otherwise lack access to the labour market. In total, more than 470 million people worldwide are affected.
 
It also looks at labour market inequalities. Using new data and estimates it shows that, at the global level, income inequality is higher than previously thought, especially in developing countries.
 
Worldwide, the share of national income going to labour (rather than to other factors of production) declined substantially between 2004 and 2017, with this economically significant fall being most pronounced in Europe, Central Asia and the Americas.
 
Moderate or extreme working poverty is expected to rise in 2020-21 in developing countries, increasing the obstacles to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1 on eradicating poverty everywhere by 2030. Currently working poverty (defined as earning less than US$3.20 per day in purchasing power parity terms) affects more than 630 million workers, or one in five of the global working population.
 
Other significant inequalities – defined by gender, age and geographic location - remain stubborn features of current labour markets, the report shows, limiting both individual opportunities and general economic growth.
 
In particular, a staggering 267 million young people (aged 15-24) are not in employment, education or training, and many more endure substandard working conditions.
 
Looking at economic growth, the report finds that the current pace and form of growth is hampering efforts to reduce poverty and improve working conditions in low-income countries.
 
“Labour under-utilization and poor quality jobs mean our economies and societies are missing out on the benefits of a huge pool of human talent,” said the report’s lead author, Stefan Kühn. “We will only find a sustainable, inclusive path of development if we tackle these kinds of labour market inequalities and gaps in access to decent work.”
 
The annual WESO Trends report analyses key labour market issues, including unemployment, labour under-utilisation, working poverty, income inequality, labour income share and factors that exclude people from decent work. http://bit.ly/37kTCeg
 
Jan. 2020
 
Rising inequality affecting more than two-thirds of the globe. (UN News)
 
Inequality is growing for more than 70 per cent of the global population, exacerbating the risks of divisions and hampering economic and social development. But the rise is far from inevitable and can be tackled at a national and international level, says a flagship study released by the UN.
 
The World Social Report 2020, published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), shows that income inequality has increased in most developed countries, and some middle-income countries - including China.
 
The challenges are underscored by UN chief António Guterres in the foreword, in which he states that the world is confronting “the harsh realities of a deeply unequal global landscape”, in which economic woes, inequalities and job insecurity have led to mass protests in both developed and developing countries.
 
“Income disparities and a lack of opportunities”, he writes, “are creating a vicious cycle of inequality, frustration and discontent across generations.”
 
The study shows that the richest one per cent of the population are the big winners in the changing global economy, increasing their share of income between 1990 and 2015, while at the other end of the scale, the bottom 40 per cent earned less than a quarter of income in all countries surveyed.
 
In unequal societies, with wide disparities in areas such as health care and education, people are more likely to remain trapped in poverty, across several generations.
 
There are still stark differences between the richest and poorest countries and regions: the average income in North America, for example, is 16 times higher than that of people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although cities drive economic growth, they are more unequal than rural areas, with the extremely wealthy living alongside the very poor. The scale of inequality varies widely from city to city, even within a single country: as they grow and develop, some cities have become more unequal whilst, in others, inequality has declined.
 
The report looks at the impact that four powerful global forces, or megatrends, are having on inequality around the world: technological innovation, climate change, urbanization and international migration.
 
The climate crisis is having a negative impact on quality of life, and vulnerable populations are bearing the brunt of environmental degradation and extreme weather events. Climate change, according to the World Social Report, is making the world’s poorest countries even poorer, and could reverse progress made in reducing inequality among countries.
 
Despite a clear widening of the gap between the haves and have-nots worldwide, the report points out that this situation can be reversed. Although the megatrends have the potential to continue divisions in society, they can also, as the Secretary-General says in his foreword, “be harnessed for a more equitable and sustainable world”. Both national governments and international organizations have a role to play in levelling the playing field and creating a fairer world for all. Reducing inequality should, says the report, play a central role in policy-making.
 
http://www.un.org/development/desa/dspd/world-social-report/2020-2.html http://news.un.org/en/story/2020/01/1055681


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More than one in three low- and middle-income countries face both extremes of malnutrition
by Lancet, World Health Organization
 
Dec. 2019
 
Twin presence of obesity and undernutrition reflects shifts in food systems
 
A new approach is needed to help reduce undernutrition and obesity at the same time, as the issues become increasingly connected due to rapid changes in countries’ food systems. This is especially important in low- and middle-income countries, according to a new four-paper report published in The Lancet.
 
More than a third of such countries had overlapping forms of malnutrition (45 of 123 countries in the 1990s, and 48 of 126 countries in the 2010s), particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, and east Asia and the Pacific.
 
Undernutrition and obesity can lead to effects across generations as both maternal undernutrition and obesity are associated with poor health in offspring. However, because of the speed of change in food systems, more people are being exposed to both forms of malnutrition at different points in their lifetimes, which further increases harmful health effects.
 
“We are facing a new nutrition reality,” said lead author of the report Dr Francesco Branca, Director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, World Health Organization. “We can no longer characterize countries as low-income and undernourished, or high-income and only concerned with obesity. All forms of malnutrition have a common denominator – food systems that fail to provide all people with healthy, safe, affordable, and sustainable diets.
 
Changing this will require action across food systems – from production and processing, through trade and distribution, pricing, marketing, and labelling, to consumption and waste. All relevant policies and investments must be radically re-examined.”
 
In a Lancet editorial accompanying the report, Dr Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, says: “Today’s publication of the WHO Series on the Double Burden of Malnutrition comes after 12 months of Lancet articles exploring nutrition in all its forms… With these and other articles across Lancet journals throughout 2019, it has become clear that nutrition and malnutrition need to be approached from multiple perspectives, and although findings have sometimes converged, there is still work to be done to understand malnutrition’s multiple manifestations… With 6 years remaining in the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025), this Series and Comment define the future direction required to achieve the global goal of eradicating hunger and preventing malnutrition in all its forms.”
 
Globally, estimates suggest that almost 2.3 billion children and adults are overweight, and more than 150 million children are stunted. However, in low- and middle-income countries these emerging issues overlap in individuals, families, communities and countries.
 
The new report explores the trends behind this intersection – known as the double burden of malnutrition – as well as the societal and food system changes that may be causing it, its biological explanation and effects, and policy measures that may help address malnutrition in all its forms.
 
The authors used survey data from low- and middle-income countries in the 1990s and 2010s to estimate which countries faced a double burden of malnutrition (ie, in the population, more than 15% of people had wasting, more than 30% were stunted, more than 20% of women had thinness, and more than 20% of people were overweight).
 
In the 2010s, 14 countries with some of the lowest incomes in the world had newly developed a double burden of malnutrition, compared with the 1990s. However, fewer low- and middle-income countries with the highest incomes were affected than in the 1990s.
 
The authors say that this reflects the increasing prevalence of being overweight in the poorest countries, where populations still face stunting, wasting and thinness.
 
High-quality diets reduce the risk of malnutrition in all its forms by promoting healthy growth, development, and immunity, and preventing obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) throughout life.
 
The components of healthy diets are: optimal breastfeeding practices in the first two years; a diversity and abundance of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, fibre, nuts, and seeds; modest amounts of animal source foods; minimal amounts of processed meats, and minimal amounts of foods and beverages high in energy and added amounts of sugar, saturated fat, trans fat, and salt.
 
“Emerging malnutrition issues are a stark indicator of the people who are not protected from the factors that drive poor diets. The poorest low- and middle-income countries are seeing a rapid transformation in the way people eat, drink, and move at work, home, in transport and in leisure,” said report author Professor Barry Popkin, University of North Carolina, USA.
 
“The new nutrition reality is driven by changes to the food system, which have increased availability of ultra-processed foods that are linked to increased weight gain, while also adversely affecting infant and pre-schooler diets. These changes include disappearing fresh food markets, increasing supermarkets, and the control of the food chain by supermarkets, and global food, catering and agriculture companies in many countries.”
 
Exposure to undernutrition early in life followed by becoming overweight from childhood onwards increases the risk of a range of non-communicable diseases – making the double burden of malnutrition a key factor driving the emerging global epidemics of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
 
Negative effects can also pass across generations – for example, the effect of maternal obesity on the likelihood of the child having obesity may be exacerbated if the mother was undernourished in early life.
 
Despite physiological links, actions to address all forms of malnutrition have historically not taken account of these or other key factors, including early-life nutrition, diet quality, socioeconomic factors, and food environments.
 
In addition, there is some evidence that programmes addressing undernutrition have unintentionally increased risks for obesity and diet-related NCDs in low-income and middle-income countries where food environments are changing rapidly.
 
While it is critical to maintain these programmes for undernutrition, they need to be redesigned to do no harm. Existing undernutrition programmes delivered through health services, social safety nets, educational settings, and agriculture and food systems present opportunities to address obesity and diet-related NCDs.
 
The report identifies a set of ‘double-duty actions’ that simultaneously prevent or reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies leading to underweight, wasting, stunting or micronutrient deficiencies, and obesity or NCDs, with the same intervention, programme, or policy.
 
These range from improved antenatal care and breastfeeding practices, to social welfare, and to new agricultural and food system policies with healthy diets as their primary goal.
 
“Continuing with business-as-usual is not fit for purpose in the new nutrition reality. The good news is that there are some powerful opportunities to use the same platforms to address different forms of malnutrition. The time is now to seize these opportunities for ‘double duty action’ to get results” said Professor Corinna Hawkes, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London, UK.
 
To create the systemic changes needed to end malnutrition in all its forms, the authors call on governments, the UN, civil society, academics, the media, donors, the private sector and economic platforms to address the double burden of malnutrition and bring in new actors, such as grass-roots organizations, farmers and their unions, faith-based leaders, advocates for planetary health, innovators and investors who are financing fair and green companies, city mayors and consumer associations.
 
“Given the political economy of food, the commodification of food systems, and growing patterns of inequality worldwide, the new nutrition reality calls for a broadened community of actors who work in mutually reinforcing and interconnected ways on a global scale,” says Dr Branca. “Without a profound food system transformation, the economic, social, and environmental costs of inaction will hinder the growth and development of individuals and societies for decades to come.”
 
http://www.who.int/news-room/detail/16-12-2019-more-than-one-in-three-low--and-middle-income-countries-face-both-extremes-of-malnutrition http://www.thelancet.com/doi/story/10.1016/series.2019.12.11.108179 http://sdg.iisd.org/news/unicef-report-warns-the-global-food-system-is-failing-children/ http://bit.ly/2RDmidh http://reliefweb.int/report/world/asia-and-pacific-regional-overview-food-security-and-nutrition-placing-nutrition-centre


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