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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 top one percent of the global population holds 44 percent of the world’s wealth, while the bottom 57 percent holds just two percent of total wealth. Similar patterns are emerging within countries, as wealth gaps have widened or remained extremely high in nations such as the United States, Brazil, India, and China. For example, in the United States, national income inequality has reached a 50-year high in 2019, whereas income inequality in Brazil has remained at approximately its current level (one of the highest in the world) since 1980.

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.


Season of Hunger: A Crisis of Food Inflation & Shrinking Safety Nets in the U.S.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hunger and food insecurity is on the increase in the U.S. as families face ultimatums: to pay for food or rent, food or medicine. In 2006, 42 percent of households chose between food and utilities, 35 percent between food and housing, and 32 percent between food and health care.