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The Distribution of Global Capital: 3 billion people lives on $2/day
by: Ofer Shoshani
Copyright 2005 Ofer Shoshani

This week the Live 8 mega-event turned our attention to the problem of poverty. We learned that a child dies from it every three seconds. While we wait for the world to finally do something in order to save the African kids, we should look closely at the statistics and the true extent of international poverty.

The distribution of Global Capital

Half the world, nearly three billion people, lives on less than two dollars a day. 1.3 billion people live on $1/day. The Gross Domestic Product of the 48 poorest nations, i.e. a quarter of the world’s countries, is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined. The 48 poorest countries account for less than 0.4 per cent of global exports.

The richest 50 million people in Europe and North America have the same income as 2.7 billion poor People. The combined wealth of the world’s 200 richest people hit $1 trillion in 1999; the combined income of the 582 million people living in the 43 least developed countries is $146 billion.

The current LIVE 8 campaign is trying to eliminate the debt catastrophe: the developing world spends $13 on debt repayment for every $1 they have received in aid. The poorer the country, the more likely it is that debt repayments are extracted directly from people who neither contracted the loans nor received any of the money. As a result of the debt catastrophe, millions of children have died each year because their government couldn’t reduce poverty levels.

For example, the lives of 1.7 million children have been needlessly lost in year 2000 because world governments have failed to reduce poverty levels

We expect these poor countries to “develop”, but how can they hope to escape such a situation when their population is in abominable physical condition? Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of whom reside in Asia and the Pacific. We hear that education is the key, yet nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.

In 1960, 20% of the population in the world’s richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20% - in 1997, 74 times as much. An analysis of long-term trends shows the distance between the richest and poorest countries was approximately (Source:

- 3 to 1 in 1820
- 11 to 1 in 1913
- 35 to 1 in 1950
- 44 to 1 in 1973
- 72 to 1 in 1992

20% of the population in the developed nations consume 86% of the world’s goods. The top fifth of the world’s people in the richest countries enjoy 82% of the expanding export trade and 68% of foreign direct investment - the bottom fifth has access to barely more than 1%.

Poverty is not only a problem for Third World countries. The United States, the wealthiest nation on Earth, has the widest gap between the rich and poor of any industrialized nation.

More on the Debt Catastrophe could be found here:

More on the Sponsor a Child programs, a way for you to save one needed child in less than $1/day could be found here:

About the author:
Ofer Shoshani has been working for the last 5 years as a professional journalist, writing from Spain, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, USA, Israel, India & Thailand. More of his work could be found at child sponsorship programs), and Relocation to New Zealand) and and Relocation to Spain).

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