All people are equal before the law. That means we all have the same rights, including, among other things, the right to a self-determined life. By the same token, we should all have the same opportunities to get an education, access health care, participate in social and economic life and much more. Unfortunately, poverty prevents many people from taking advantage of those opportunities. Poverty affects people in many ways – and one of its consequences is inequality. For example, there are 258 million children and teens around the world who have no access to education. That’s almost double the number of young people living in the whole of Europe. Similarly, not everyone can count on access to health care or equal treatment of the sexes. The international community has made great strides in lifting people out of poverty. What’s more, the most vulnerable nations including the least developed countries, landlocked developing nations and small island developing states continue to push ahead in reducing poverty. Nevertheless, inequality and wide disparities in access to healthcare, education and other resources remain.
And that’s not all. Global wealth in the form of capital, resources and real estate is not shared equally by everyone. Not only is more than a third of the world’s wealth owned by the richest one percent, but the remainder is also unequally and unfairly distributed among the remaining 99 percent of the global population. While economic inequality remains high within and between nations, the richest one percent also hold a growing share of the income in many countries. The good news is that income disparities between and within countries have decreased. Today, per capita income is rising faster than the national average in 60 out of the 94 countries with available data on the subject. At the same time, most countries have seen income increase for the poorest 40 percent of the world’s population.
As a diverse country, Germany must by necessity integrate those who settle there from abroad to ensure peaceful coexistence. Language skills and educational qualifications are especially important to achieving this. Foreigners without German citizenship are less likely to graduate from school in the country than natives. It is striking that in 2019 only around 15 percent of foreign school leavers in Germany qualified to attend university or technical college. In contrast, 36.7 percent – twice as many – native German school graduates went on to earn further qualifications. In Germany, welfare benefits, social security and taxes are the primary means of combating income inequality. Despite that, income disparities are high. One reason for this is that people in Germany are far more likely to live in rented homes than to own their own properties.
Increasingly, the consensus is that economic growth alone is not enough to reduce poverty. Only inclusive, sustainable development comprising an economic, social and environmental dimension can achieve this. In order to reduce inequality, policies must always serve the broadest majority as well as accommodate the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized population groups. To achieve this, duty-free access to markets must be expanded and exports from developing countries further incentivized, coupled with an increase in the share of votes held by developing countries in the IMF. Ultimately, technological innovations can help reduce the cost to migrant workers of sending money.