UN report says Arab region is the most unequal worldwide

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JEDDAH: The Arab region is the most unequal in the world, according to a new report from the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, which warns of a “breakdown in social cohesion” if inequalities are not addressed.

According to the report, titled “Inequality in the Arab Region: A Ticking Time Bomb,” the region has some of the highest levels of income inequality in the world.

In some countries, the top 10% of earners accounted for more than 60% of national income, compared to 52 percent globally, 55 percent in Latin America, and 36 percent in Europe.

Demographic dynamics, poor education, the digital divide, weak institutions, corruption and lack of transparency, data deficits, and unaffordable housing were among the factors driving inequality.

It stated that gender inequality had been consistently higher than the global average, with an estimated 179 years required to close the gender gap, compared to 142 years globally.

In 2021, this gender gap was one of the largest in the world, at 61 percent, compared to 67.7 percent globally.

Youth unemployment had been the highest in the world for the past 25 years, at 3.8 times that of adult workers.

Certain groups, such as women and people with disabilities, had higher unemployment rates than men and people without disabilities.

“If such factors are not addressed, they will exacerbate existing inequalities, disproportionately affecting the poorest and most vulnerable communities.” “These factors have the potential to exacerbate Arab disaffection and alienation, resulting in a breakdown of social cohesion,” said UNESCWA executive secretary Rola Dashti.

“Despite this bleak picture, Arab populations are upbeat and optimistic.” According to an ESCWA survey, 52 percent of people in the region believe equality exists, either fully or partially, and 47 percent believe equality will increase over the next five years,” she said.

She proposed establishing a solidarity fund and a regional coalition to connect different population groups from the richest and poorest segments of society in order to create opportunities.

According to the report, the pandemic exposed “deep and long-standing inequalities” throughout the region, disproportionately affecting the poorest and most vulnerable communities.

It pushed an additional 16 million people into poverty, bringing the total number of poor people in the region to over 116 million, accounting for nearly a quarter of the population.

People in the informal sector, vulnerable workers, women, young people, less-educated workers, and those with disabilities were among those who lost their jobs the most during the pandemic.

Source: Arab News

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