Skip main navigation

Inequality of wealth lecture

A lecture on the inequality of wealth.
4.5
So today we’ll be talking about inequality and a good place to start is defining what inequality is. Does anyone have an idea what inequality is, how would you define or describe inequality? Yes, Jenny. I think it’s when people are not treated equally as so for example, you might be discriminated against and that could be resulting in inequality.
29.5
That’s very good, so you’ve talked about discrimination that is something that features into inequality and it looks at how people can be treated unequally either because of their access to resources or their rights or their freedoms and even looking at this definition that we’ve just, you’ve just described Jenny, you can see that inequality has different aspects so you can have different forms of inequality. You can have gender inequality, you can have inequality in terms of access to resources, inequality in terms of opportunity, economic inequality as well and political inequality.
63.5
I mean there was a time when no women were allowed to vote that is a form of economic inequality or political inequality and one thing that economists are often very concerned about is the economic aspect of inequality and of course this intersects with the other different types that we’ve just talked about, so remember we talked about gender inequality, your position as a male of female in society can influence how you’re treated right and that also can intersect with, say, your religion or your racial identity and imagine if there were different forms of inequality that pertain to these different groups of people, then there’ll be that intersection in that aspect as well so there are different forms of inequality that we look at and all of these intersect and give us an idea of how societies function or how societies can try to improve this process and like I said earlier, one major part of and one type of inequality that governments or economists are very concerned with is economic inequality and this deals with the distribution of income and wealth among groups or individuals and this applies to both within country groups or even globally as well.
138
One good example is looking at global wealth distribution, in the world today we know that 90% of the wealth in the world is held in the hands of only 10% of the population of people in the world. That is drastic, so that makes you wonder so what’s happening with the remaining 90% of people, how much income are they having to struggle amongst themselves to have just 10% of the share and that is very disturbing so this is something that becomes a huge economic problem, a huge political problem and as well as a huge social problem and this is something that economists are concerned with, politicians are concerned with, governments are concerned with as well.
174.3
And another reason why we care about economic inequalities because it’s very closely related to poverty. We’ve seen in the past few years that the level of poverty has sort of shifted, that the distribution of poverty has sort of shifted. In the early 2000s a majority of the population of the world were living above the poverty line, which is one dollar 20 cents a day.
197.5
Now in 2020 we actually have more people living below the poverty line than we had before in very poor economies and this is of course another issue and with economic inequality there’s also the direct effects it has on economic growth so we know that the less amount of money people have in their hands or the less amount of money people earn as income, the less amount of money they’ll be able to spend on goods and resources or services, and that means the less production there will be in an economy because if people are not demanding for those goods or services, there’s is no incentive for you as a producer to want to produce more, right, so overall growth slows down when there’s more inequality.
234.9
So this is something that we talk about as economists and this is something that we care about working towards, but do you think there’s anything that can be done about income inequality, is there something that governments can do to say reduce income inequality? Yes. Maybe reconsider where the funds go and the distribution of funds so maybe like the funds from taxes reconsider where how much goes where.
258
Okay, so very good you mentioned taxes and taxation is one key to the politicians and policymakers used to redistribute income from the richer people in the economy to the poorer people in the society and this is actually very important too because now governments are able to use the tax revenue from taxing the richer individuals in the society to build roads, build more physical infrastructure projects, which puts more income in the hands of those workers and overall leads to more demand and more growth in the economy

When the lecture has finished, look at your notes and write down all the questions that came to you when listening to the lecture.

If you didn’t manage to take any notes, have another go at listening to the lecture.

This article is from the free online

Preparing for University

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education