Climate Change

Southern Africa most unequal region on the continent: Report

Top 10% of society in the region took the lion’s share of the national income, whereas the bottom 40% took just 4%

 
By Jitendra
Last Updated: Monday 23 December 2019
Southern Africa is the most unequal region, says report
A map of Southern Africa. Photo: Wikimedia Commons A map of Southern Africa. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Southern Africa is the most ‘unequal’ region on the continent in terms of income, according to the Human Development Index 2019 (HDI).

The report by United Nations Development Programme was released earlier this month. It highlighted the need to address inequality and climate crisis together. India was placed 129th in the index, just a notch above the previous year, among 189 countries.

According to the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals 2030, the income of a country’s bottom 40 per cent needs to increase at a rate greater than the national average to make more people come out from poverty.

In Africa, the results have been mixed according to HDI 2019.

In Southern Africa, the share of national income drawn by the top 10 per cent of society was the highest in South Africa (65 per cent), followed by Namibia (64 per cent). On the other hand, the bottom 40 per cent in both countries received 4 per cent of the national income.

This made Southern Africa the continent’s most unequal region.

On an average, income inequality was lower in Central Africa but still very high. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the top 10 per cent earned 56 per cent of total national income while bottom 40 per cent earned 7 per cent.

East Africa was less unequal than Central Africa, especially at the bottom. The bottom 40 per cent earned 9 per cent whereas the top 10 per cent earned 48 per cent in Kenya.

There was a declining trend in inequality in two of the most populous East African countries: Kenya and Ethiopia. The income of the bottom 40 per cent rose by 48 percentage point in Ethiopia.

The income inequality started reducing as one moved towards North and West Africa.

In Sierra Leone, West Africa, the top 10 per cent received 42 per cent of the national income whereas the bottom 40 per cent received 12 per cent. A similar trend was seen in other West African countries. The income of the bottom 40 per cent in the region increased at a rate of 25 per cent.

In North Africa, Algeria was considered as the least unequal country with it top 10 per cent earning 37 per cent of the national income while the bottom 40 per cent received 14 per cent, more than the average.

The United States (US) witnessed a 2 per cent fall in income of the bottom 40 per cent between 1980 and 2017. In the same period, the US grew by 66 per cent, a sign of highly unequal growth.

In China, the incomes of the bottom 40 per cent grew at an impressive 263 per cent between 2000 and 2018, which contributed to the fast reduction of extreme poverty.

In India, the incomes of the bottom 40 per cent grew by 58 per cent between 2000 and 2018, which was significantly below the average, the report said. At the other end of the spectrum, the top one per cent saw their incomes grow significantly more than the average

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