Poverty in a rich world 富有世界的贫穷


Vocabulary:money 词汇:金钱

Image caption Who holds most of the wealth in the world?

It may not come as a surprise but the world as a whole is getting richer. Some people have more disposable income to spend on luxuries such as holidays, cars, TVs and smartphones. Recent data has shown that the number of people living in extreme poverty has halved in recent decades. So should we celebrate the fact that more of us now have a better standard of living?

Maybe not. Whilst the gap between rich and poor in some countries is narrowing, there is still a lot of inequality in other places - some people have a lot of money and opportunities and others don't. A recent report by Oxfam and Credit Suisse revealed how divided many of us are when it comes to wealth. A lot of the money in the world is in the hands of very few people. In fact, 48% of global wealth is owned by the richest 1% of the population.

But some countries are attempting to reduce this inequality and make the poor, less poor. According to David Bryer from Oxfam, Brazil has been taking "some really sensible measures - measures around having more progressive tax, around investing in a higher minimum wage [and] investing in central public services." Having a higher minimum wage, can help people eat better and seek a better education. And more people with more money buy more things - and factories can produce more. In turn, a factory which produces more will need more workers. So, more jobs are created.

Other wealthy individuals are doing their bit to help reduce inequality. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, earned a lot of money from his company but when he retired, he and his wife Melinda, created a foundation to help the poor. He thinks that rich people should, of course, pay their taxes but he also advises that they should all "look at taking their wealth and being philanthropic, both in their own country and to help the global poorest."

Bill Gates feels that giving money to help poor people is "fulfilling". But if other super-rich people don't want to experience this fulfilment then, according to Oxfam, very soon the wealthiest 1% will soon own more money than the rest of the world's population. Do you think that is fair?