Poverty and inequality

Poverty and inequality

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According to the report entitled: Born Equal: How reducing inequality could give our children a better future (2012), Save the Children,

•    Gini coefficient [which takes a value of 1 (or 100 on the percentile scale) for perfect inequality and 0 for perfect equality] increased from 32.0 percent in 1980 (or earliest available) to 36.8 percent in 2012 (or latest available) in India. On the contrary, in Brazil, Gini coefficient declined from 55.3 percent in 1980 (or earliest available) to 52.0 percent in 2012 (or latest available).

•    India and China, home to huge numbers of the world’s poor, are increasingly sheltering some of the world’s richest people. In 2002, India was home to four billionaires ($US); presently the number is 55. In 2002, China claimed only one billionaire. In Forbes’ 2012 survey China recorded 115–more than Germany, France and Japan combined.

•    In India, while the country’s average poverty rates were falling in the 2000s, in the state of Odisha poverty increased from 41% to 50%; absolute poverty among lower castes in Odisha increased during that decade from 57% to 74%.

•    In India, the worst 25 districts in terms of infant mortality (as per the 2011 census) are concentrated across three states–Assam, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Not surprisingly, these states are amongst the poorest in terms of per capita state domestic product (SDP), ranking 27, 30 and 28 respectively out of 30 states in the SDP data available for 2009–10.

•    After studying 32 countries, the report demonstrates that children born into the richest households have access to 35 times the resources of the poorest. Children born in rich households get better healthcare, more nutritious food and improved access to school. Such children do not have to start work at an early age. Thus, they are less likely to become child labourers.

•    A person born as a dalit in India will be twice as likely to live one\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s entire life in poverty. Dropout rates among children in the scheduled tribe and scheduled caste categories are substantially higher. Save the Children report alleges that India has witnessed reductions in social spending overtime.

•    India’s income inequality, meanwhile, has been shown to result in higher levels of both undernutrition and obesity in children. Subramanian et al show that state level income inequality was strongly associated with the levels of Body Mass Index (BMI). A change of one standard deviation of the Gini coefficient (which amounts roughly to a 3% change) increased the risk of being underweight by 19% and the risk of being obese by 21%, depending on the direction of change. The study concluded that the simultaneous existence of both undernutrition and overnutrition suggests the blame lies with inequality (a skewed distribution of food), rather than general poverty (an overall shortage).


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