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Disparities in social, political, and economic outcomes in countries around the world are rooted in varied systemic problems ranging from racism, to exploitative labor and migration policies, to the predominance of corporate monopolies.

July 20, 2020, Strike for Black Lives march, Oakland, California. © Brooke Anderson

On the ground level, basic needs — including nutrition, housing, healthcare, and adequate schooling — are continually denied for billions of people, feeding the cycle of generational poverty. Ultimately, this allows for the perpetuation of discriminatory laws and practices in ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ countries alike.

All over the world, historical injustices such as slavery and colonization have created cycles of inequality that are spurred on by newer forms of institutional discrimination. These forms of systemic prejudice amplify and perpetuate social, political, and economic inequity globally.

One of the most obvious manifestations of this inequity is the increasing stratification of wealth occurring on both global and national scales. The richest one percent grabbed nearly two-thirds of all new wealth worth US$42 trillion created since 2020, almost twice as much money as the bottom 99 percent of the world‘s population. The top one percent of households globally own 43 percent of all personal wealth, while the bottom 50 percent own only one percent.

In addition to economic inequalities, which have led to the poverty, homelessness, and malnutrition of billions, much of the world’s population continues to face severe social and political marginalization due to discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, caste, and class. Indigenous and rural communities at the intersection of these identities are particularly impacted and endangered. With the increase of neo-liberal policies, the economic and political divide between privileged and marginalized groups has widened, cementing the inequities that have arisen from discrimination and further impeding societal mobility.

What we are doing about it

The Oakland Institute is documenting and reporting on inequities around the world, often at the behest of local communities. Our work highlights social, economic, and political disparities; the key actors and policies involved; and the impact on people and communities. The Institute’s reports reveal the pervasiveness of equity issues ranging from homelessness, land and retail consolidation, to the lack of migrant labor rights. Through detailed investigation and reporting, the Institute’s publications bring international attention to communities and problems that are most often ignored and suppressed.


Going Gray in the Golden State

Going Gray in the Golden State: The Reality of Poverty Among Seniors in Oakland, California

For a startling number of seniors in the United States, aging is marked by intensified physical deprivation, insecurity, isolation and humiliation. Approximately 9 million Americans live below the poverty level, and of this group, seniors constitute nine percent.

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Facing Goliath: Challenging the Impacts of Retail Consolidation on our Local Economies, Communities, and Food Security

In the 1920s and ‘30s, a robust citizen movement to protect local economies from the impacts of chain stores swept across the nation. One ardent spokesperson, writing in a 1929 issue of Harper’s magazine, argued that “chain stores represent a sort of absentee landlordism. On our Main Street, and on thousands of other Main Streets, there is a situation where policies are dictated and standards are set by men who have possibly never seen our town.”



America's Disappeared

Monday, December 23, 2013 Peiley Lau

The holiday season can overwhelm us with its Christmas jingles on repeat and cheap decorations that crowd the aisles of every big box retailer. In between RSVPing to holiday parties and cleaning the house for visiting relatives, donating to food drives and charities can become just another chore on our list of obligations. Why open our pocketbooks and write yet another check? Are there Americans who really need our help?

SNAP: An Investment in Our Children

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 Peiley Lau

As families across the United States sit down for the Thanksgiving feast, many others will struggle to afford even basic food on this holiday. For a lot of Americans, hunger is a constant concern. Food insecurity, and malnutrition and hunger with it, has grown dramatically in recent years. In 2012, one out of every six, or 49 million, Americans was food insecure. [1] The magnitude of food insecurity renders the federal Supplemental Nutrition...

What is the Future We Envision for America?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013 Peiley Lau

According to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Washington should care for the generations ahead. Yet, his recent austerity measure undermines investment in America’s future. If the $40 billion cut to the existing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the House of Representatives should pass in the Senate, the government will have failed the nation’s poor.

US Immigration Reform Bill Makes Splash, but Mass Firings Continue

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 Melanie Berkowitz

While the United States Senate made final tweaks to pass its highly publicized immigration reform bill S.744 last Thursday, community members in the San Francisco Bay Area protested the firing of hundreds of undocumented immigrant workers. On June 11, 2013, fired workers and their supporters participated in a 72-hour hunger strike in San Jose and Oakland, California. This “Fast Against the Firings” drew attention to the insidious effects of the...

Tackling World Hunger: Still Headed the Wrong Way

Sunday, October 14, 2012 Frederic Mousseau

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s report, State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012, was released on October 9, 2012. Although one might be tempted to celebrate the decrease in the number of undernourished people from nearly 1 billion in 2009 to 870 million today, this new report is not a harbinger of good news.