World issues

Wealth and poverty

Luxury apartments and shantytowns in Rio, BrazilLuxury apartments and shantytowns in Rio, Brazil Around 85% of the world’s wealth is owned by just 10% of the world’s population, mostly in Europe, the USA and East Asia. In contrast, about half of the world’s population own just 1% of the world’s wealth. The wealthiest people have an abundance of money and property, while those living in poverty lack the money needed for basic necessities such as food and shelter. Poorer regions are often affected by poor sanitation, disease and war. The gap between the rich and the poor seems to grow ever wider. Measured by the average income earned by people in the richest and poorest fifth of the world’s nations, the gap has grown from 30 to 1 in 1960 to nearly 80 to 1 today. Within wealthy countries there are people who live in poverty; equally, there are wealthy people who live in less prosperous countries.

Gross domestic product

Gross domestic product (GDP) of countries in the worldGross domestic product (GDP) of countries in the worldThe wealth of a nation can be measured by its gross domestic product (GDP). This is defined as the value of all the goods and services produced there, including those produced by foreign-owned firms. The Group of Eight (G8) are the eight leading industrial nations of the world. These nations—the United States, Japan, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Canada and Russia—account for more than 65% of the world’s GDP. The country with the highest GDP per person in 2016 was Luxembourg ($103,199). In the same year, the figure for South Sudan in Africa was $233. Around 1.4 billion people around the world live on less than $1.25 (75p) a day.

40% of people in Africa have no access to safe drinking water.

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