Connect with us

Politics

The Global Inequality Gap, and How It’s Changed Over 200 Years

Published

on

The Global Inequality Gap, and How It's Changed Over 200 Years

How the Global Inequality Gap Has Changed In 200 Years

What makes a person healthy, wealthy, and wise? The UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) measures this by one’s life expectancy, average income, and years of education.

However, the value of each metric varies greatly depending on where you live. Today’s data visualization from Max Roser at Our World in Data summarizes five basic dimensions of development across countries—and how our average standards of living have evolved since 1800.

Health: Mortality Rates and Life Expectancy

Child mortality rates and life expectancy at birth are telltale signs of a country’s overall standard of living, as they indicate a population’s ability to access healthcare services.

Iceland stood at the top of these ranks in 2017, with only a 0.21% mortality rate for children under five years old. On the other end of the spectrum, Somalia had the highest child mortality rate of 12.7%—over three times the current global average.

While there’s a stark contrast between the best and worst performing countries, it’s clear that even Somalia has made significant strides since 1800. At that time, the global average child mortality rate was a whopping 43%.

Lower child mortality is also tied to higher life expectancy. In 1800, the average life expectancy was that of today’s millennial—only 29 years old:

Life Expectancy in 1800 by Continent

Today, the global average has shot up to 72.2 years, with areas like Japan exceeding this benchmark by more than a decade.

Education: Mean and Expected Years of Schooling

Education levels are measured in two distinct ways:

  • Mean years: the average number of years a person aged 25+ receives in their lifetime
  • Expected years: the total years a 2-year old child is likely to spend in school

In the 1800s, the mean and expected years of education were both less than a year—only 78 days to be precise. Low attendance rates occurred because children were expected to work during harvests, or contracted long-term illnesses that kept them at home.

Since then, education levels have drastically improved:

Mean Years of SchoolingExpected Years of schooling 
HighestGermany 🇩🇪: 14.1 yearsAustralia 🇦🇺: 22.9 years
LowestBurkina Faso 🇧🇫: 1.5 yearsSouth Sudan 🇸🇸: 4.9 years
Global Average8.4 years12.7 years

Research shows that investing in education can greatly narrow the inequality gap. Just one additional year of school can:

  • Raise a person’s income by up to 10%
  • Raise average annual GDP growth by 0.37%
  • Reduce the probability of motherhood by 7.3%
  • Reduce the likelihood of child marriage by >5 percentage points
  • Source

    Education has a strong correlation with individual wealth, which cascades into national wealth. Not surprisingly, average income has ballooned significantly in two centuries as well.

    Wealth: Average GDP Per Capita

    Global inequality levels are the most stark when it comes to GDP per capita. While the U.S. stands at $54,225 per person in 2017, resource-rich Qatar brings in more than double this amount—an immense $116,936 per person.

    The global average GDP per capita is $15,469, but inequality heavily skews the bottom end of these values. In the Central African Republic, GDP per capita is only $661 today—similar to the average income two hundred years ago.

    A Virtuous Cycle

    These measures of development clearly feed into one another. Rising life expectancies are an indication of a society’s growing access to healthcare options. Compounded with more years of education, especially for women, this has had a ripple effect on declining fertility rates, contributing to higher per capita incomes.

    People largely agree on what goes into human well-being: life, health, sustenance, prosperity, peace, freedom, safety, knowledge, leisure, happiness… If they have improved over time, that, I submit, is progress.

    Steven Pinker

    As technology accelerates the pace of change across these indicators, will the global inequality gap narrow more, or expand even wider?

Click for Comments

China

Which Countries Have the Most Economic Influence in Southeast Asia?

One country dominates this survey of who has the most economic influence in the region.

Published

on

A cropped bar chart depicting the countries/ regions identified by respondents as having the greatest economic influence in Southeast Asia.

Countries With the Most Economic Influence in Southeast Asia

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

This chart visualizes the results of a 2024 survey conducted by the ASEAN Studies Centre at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

Nearly 2,000 respondents from 10 countries were asked to select which country/region they believe has the most influential economic power in Southeast Asia.

The countries surveyed are all member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political and economic union of 10 countries in Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asia Perceptions: Who’s Got Economic Influence?

Across all ASEAN nations, China is regarded as the region’s most influential economic power.

Laos and Thailand had the highest share of respondents picking China, at 78% and 71% respectively. As the report points out, China is Laos’ largest foreign investor as well as its top export market.

Country🇨🇳 China🌏 ASEAN🇺🇸 U.S.
🇧🇳 Brunei64%18%8%
🇰🇭 Cambodia60%11%20%
🇮🇩 Indonesia54%28%8%
🇱🇦 Laos78%8%8%
🇲🇾 Malaysia67%17%9%
🇲🇲 Myanmar60%7%20%
🇵🇭 Philippines31%26%28%
🇸🇬 Singapore60%15%21%
🇹🇭 Thailand71%9%11%
🇻🇳 Vietnam53%29%11%

Note: Percentages are rounded.

Other ASEAN countries usually score highly as well, along with the United States.

It’s only in the Philippines, where China (31%), the U.S. (28%) and ASEAN (26%) were perceived as having a similar amount of influence.

ASEAN, Japan, and the EU

Filipinos also rated Japan’s economic influence the highest (9%) compared to those surveyed in other ASEAN countries. In 2023, the Southeast Asian bloc celebrated 50 years of friendship with Japan, marking it as one of their most important “dialogue partners.”

Country🇯🇵 Japan🇪🇺 EU🌐 Other
🇧🇳 Brunei3%1%7%
🇰🇭 Cambodia1%5%3%
🇮🇩 Indonesia5%1%3%
🇱🇦 Laos1%4%1%
🇲🇾 Malaysia4%0%2%
🇲🇲 Myanmar6%6%2%
🇵🇭 Philippines9%4%3%
🇸🇬 Singapore3%0%2%
🇹🇭 Thailand3%4%4%
🇻🇳 Vietnam3%3%2%

Note: Percentages are rounded. Other countries include: Australia, South Korea, India, and the UK.

The EU also received single-percentage responses, its highest share coming from Myanmar (6%), Cambodia (5%), and Laos (4%).

Finally, the report contrasted China’s robust economic influence with concerns about its growing impact in the region. Respondents from Vietnam (88%), Myanmar (88%), and Thailand (80%) had the highest levels of concern, despite their countries’ strong trade ties with China.

Continue Reading
Appian-Capital

Subscribe

Popular